by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

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I have a photograph containing a silhouette of bird that's slightly out of focus. The edge is well defined, but feathery. Sharpening gives a reasonable improvement, but I curious whether the wizardry of Photoshop could improve things further. I'm quite new to Photoshop and would welcome some guidance on how this could be done, if anyone is willing.

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Are you really set on having Photoshop-specific answers, or would you be open to general techniques? (And what about options for improving the shot while taking it rather than post-processing?) – mattdm Feb 27 '12 at 19:35
When it comes to photography, refrain from the urge to shoot it now, and then fix it later in Photoshop. Capturing the best possible image in camera will make your life much, much easier in post-editing. As a photographer, I do not want to spend hours in-front of computer screen. This is not what I enjoy. I want to be behind the camera. If you are able to reshoot the silhouette, then do so. – Alen Feb 27 '12 at 20:59
Of course it's feathery, it's a bird! – MikeW Feb 27 '12 at 22:15

You can probably use curves/levels adjustment to increase the contrast of the edge to give the appearance of a sharper edge. Since it's a silhouette, you don't have (much) detail to worry about. By making the transition between light and dark as contrasty as possible, the edge should appear sharper.

As far as sharpening goes, I would try a high pass filter for an edge like that.

  • Duplicate layer
  • Filter > Other > High Pass
  • since the edge is blurry, try a higher radius than normal, possibly 5-10 pixels (depends on resolution of image and amount of blur you have)
  • change layer blending mode to Overlay
  • use a mask to apply the sharpening just to the edges you want to sharpen (fill mask with black, then paint white where you want sharpening)
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