Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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How can I fix this picture? Somebody else took this picture and well he wasn't able to do it very well, and it's blurred.

the photograph in question

I have photoshop

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Related, if not an exact duplicate: Is it possible to re-focus (recover) an intentionally blurred image? –  Philip Kendall Apr 7 '13 at 13:30
    
An intentionally blurred area of an image is going to be much more blurred than a slightly out of focus image, yet might be easier to recover if you know what algorithm was use to produce the artificial blur. These are two totally different ways the blur was created. –  Michael Clark Apr 7 '13 at 13:40
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't have Photoshop, but there's an ancient open source project called refocus-it (for iterative refocus), which uses some of the same techniques as Photoshop's new-in-CS6 deblur feature. This should give better results than sharpening with unsharp mask or a high-pass filter. Below, I chose (after some experimentation) a radius of 3.1 and (since the image is very noisy) a noise reduction level of 4000, and 100 iterations, giving this result:

refocus-it'd

There are a few weird flat artifacts on the faces, and some clear jaggies around the edge of the flag, but this was a really quick pass. Plus, I'd be surprised if the decades-newer technology in Photoshop can't do a better job. In any case, I think it's at least better than the sharpened result overall. If you don't mind spending a lot of time at it, I might try one approach in one layer and the other in a different layer, and selectively (and softly) erase so that you get the best result in each area of the photo.

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I tried it out in CS6 and it still looked a bit like pushing it through the stained glass filter... :) Not much you can do I suppose, it's started very soft. –  John Cavan Apr 7 '13 at 16:42
    
I should add that, with the open source project at least, it's crucial to get the sliders right; if the radius isn't correct, you get strong ringing artifacts, and if the noise suppression is too low you get speckles everywhere but too high and you get additional blur rather than sharpness. And as far as I know it's basically trial and error to get those right settings. –  mattdm Apr 11 '13 at 0:16
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You can try to use the unsharpen mask in Photoshop. Even though it is named unsharpen mask, it will allow you to get as much out of the blurry picture as you can. Unfortunately, it will still be almost as blurry as your original.

If you have CS6, you can also try the "deblur" feature. This tool is mainly for correcting know lens aberrations, but it may help a little. But your picture will still be blurrier than one that was correctly focused when shot.

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Photoshop has a deblur feature which may help in some circumstances, but for a photo like this which is badly out of focus, I think you're pretty much stuck with it. Either use the photo as it is, or throw it on the trash pile.

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There are really only a couple of things you can do to recover this at all... So, I tried this with your image:

  1. High pass sharpen with a radius of 4. Basically, duplicate the background layer, select the high pass filter, set the radius to 4 and the blending mode of the layer to overlay (you can experiment with the radius).

  2. Resize the image. I dropped it to 1200px on the longest edge using bicubic sharper.

The result is only marginally better, it might print okay on 4x6 at 200dpi (which is what I scaled it for)... Just resizing, is still quite blurry.

sharpened and scaled

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