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Photoshop – Mid-Tone High Pass Sharpening

Level: Intermediate

High Pass sharpening is pretty easy to do and reduces the chance of noise being sharpened unnecessarily while sharpening the tones that viewers usually put more emphasis on viewing as well.

I’m sharing something I’ve just learned from Martin Evening’s PhotoShop for Photographers training book – High Pass Sharpening targeting the mid-tones only.

This actually works better for landscape shots but I don’t have one available so I’ll use a portrait instead.

The main difference versus the standard high-pass technique will only be the mid-tone blending. You can skip all this and use masking if you want to, I’m just presenting a different approach (and in my opinion, an easier way to replicate for future photographs).


1) Here I have my niece’s portrait opened in PS CS2. It went through ACR already for global adjustments.


2) Duplicate the background layer.

3) Double-click the background_copy layer to bring up the Layer Style window. Change the blending mode to OVERLAY.

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