The subject in my photo isn't properly focused. I can't take it again because this activity documentation photo can't be redone.

I've tried many solutions such as using shadow/highlight in Photoshop, using Adobe Lightroom, and using specialized focus recovery software like Focus Magic and Helicon Focus. I couldn't solve my problem. How can I salvage my photo with the subject misfocused?

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Could you give an example for one of this photos? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael K
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 8:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also this question, which has an example. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Apr 11, 2013 at 0:17

3 Answers 3


Have you tried the High Pass Filter in Photoshop? Make a selection around the area of the image you need better focus on,

enter image description here

press ctrl-J to jump this to a new layer.

enter image description here

Then, in the Filter menu, scroll down to Other, and choose High Pass.

enter image description here

Depending on how large your photo is, you might want to choose from 1-6 pixels.

enter image description here

You will probably have to experiment to see which one you like best. When you click ok, the selected layer will go all weird and gray. This is ok! Examine the lines you see (these are the newer, more focused edges. If you see too much of a halo around the lines, you may have oversharpened and might need to undo and repeat the High Pass with less pixels.) So now you take this new ugly gray layer and in the Layers window, change the compositing mode from Normal to Overlay.

enter image description here

You may wish to play with the opacity if it is still a little too strong.

New Turtle Original Turtle

Hope this helps!

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Great results! +1 \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 15:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks! I prefer this over the smart sharpen tool much more as you can really get great results without a lot of haloing and you can control introduced noise a lot more. (that is, if you reduce noise before you create this high pass layer). \$\endgroup\$
    – huzzah
    Commented Jun 5, 2012 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Absolute lifesaver! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jords
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:49

Often when I miss focus by just a little, I'll scale down the image a bit (half each dimension) then do the normal unsharp mask. I figure I'm just throwing away the fuzzy details to keep the overall.


I'd say that there's not much to do, depending on how much blurred they are. At least, there is a lost of information (about the edges) that you can try to recreate, but it's impossible to obtain the same result of an in-focus one.

A sharpening filter can enhance the edges (together with noise), but also create some artifacts where the edges are not intended to be. You can eventually fix it manually, with masks.


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