Video tutorial: Frequency separation sharpening in Photoshop

Frequency separation sharpening in Photoshop involves creating a copy of your image and then extracting all of the low frequency information from it. This leaves you with a layer of only the very fine detail from your source, which you can then blend back in, accentuating those details. If you’re not familiar with frequency separation, it refers to spatial frequencies: in effect, we’re doing the opposite to what a Gaussian Blur filter does as it progressively removes larger details from an image.

While there are many ways to use frequency separation for sharpening, my own preference is to copy the contents of the high frequency information into its own mask. This eases back the strength of the effect, and also means you can simply paint over the mask with a white brush for areas where you want the sharpening to be more pronounced. If you need a stronger sharpening effect, you can duplicate your high frequency layer, or increase its contrast.

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