How to Get Rid of Blur in a Photo With Photoshop

By Heather Laurent

Photoshop CS3 has two primary methods of reducing blur in an image: Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen. Unsharp Mask essentially reduces blur by increasing the contrast of the image along areas where pixels differ in value from surrounding pixels. In doing so, it identifies the edges of objects in the images and makes them more prominent. Smart Sharpen allows for greater control by enabling the user to choose the sharpening algorithm and sharpen shadow and highlight areas independently.

Things You'll Need

  • Photo files
  • Photoshop CS3

Unsharp Mask

Step 1

Open your photo in Photoshop CS3. Select “Open…” from the File menu and choose the file that you would like to edit.

Step 2

Choose "Sharpen > Unsharp Mask" under the Filter menu. A preview window with your photo will appear.

Step 3

Drag the Radius slider to the desired value. This will determine how wide of an area along the edges will be sharpened through increased contrast. Adobe recommends a value between one to two pixels.

Step 4

Drag the Amount slider to the desired value. This will determine how much the contrast between the light and dark-colored pixels will be increased. Adobe recommends a value between 100 to 200 percent for high-resolution images.

Step 5

Drag the Threshold slider to the desired value. This will determine how different the neighboring pixels must be in order to be considered edges. Lower values will sharpen nearly every tonal value, while higher values will only sharpen borders whose adjacent pixels have a large tonal value differential.

Step 6

Select “OK” when you are satisfied with the sharpness of your image in the Preview window.

Smart Sharpen

Step 1

Open your photo in Photoshop CS3. Select “Open…” from the File menu and choose the file that you would like to edit.

Step 2

Choose "Sharpen > Smart Sharpen" under the Filter menu. A preview window with your photo will appear.

Step 3

Follow Steps 3 to 4 in Section 1 to set the desired values for Radius and Amount.

Step 4

Set the algorithm you would like to use to sharpen your image. Gaussian Blur employs the same algorithm as the Unsharp Mask filter. Lens Blur is more effective in sharpening small details in images while minimizing the “halo effect.” Motion Blur increases sharpness in images that have been blurred by a moving subject or camera. In the latter case, set the angle value to the approximate direction of the blur in your image.

Step 5

Select “OK” when you are satisfied with the sharpness of your image in the Preview window.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can check and uncheck the Preview Option to toggle between the original image and the applied filter.
  • If you are using Smart Sharpen to decrease blur in your image, you can choose “Advanced” in the preview window to manually sharpen shadow and highlight areas of your image.
  • Over-sharpening your image can produce a “halo effect,” which appears as a white outline bordering the edges in your photo.