An image is as brilliant as it looks, but sometimes there are several methods to creating your best work before it becomes truly brilliant. Sometimes I get a great shot and there is, to some degree, some part of the image that is out of focus and those are usually the focal points of the image. If the eyes are out of focus and your model is in a pose that is one of the best you have seen all day the image is useless, and that really sucks; a great shot but the degree of softness on the eyes doesn’t fit the picture. We can fix it though and make that image hot.
I use the Smart Sharpen and Unsharp Mask functions on nearly all of my images but sometimes I find that there needs to be some additional sharpening. But that is usually to bring out something in the background that can help make the model look better. I know it sounds weird, but sometimes parts of the back ground can really enhance her/his eyes, hair color or some other unique features that may make the image pop.
We’re gonna sharpen with the High Pass filter. Open your image, make all the adjustments you normally do before you get to the sharpening. Duplicate it, make sure it is highlighted and go to Filter>Other>High Pass. When the box comes up set the radius to 7, each image will vary on the amount of the radius and when you’re comfortable with changing it go ahead and do it. Click OK and set the Mode to Hard Light and watch how the details in the background, as well as your model, come into focus better.
So, what I usually do is open an image, enlarge it and then I use the Unsharp Mask. I then zoom into the face and other areas that have skin blemishes and remove them without making the image look doctored. Then I’ll use the Smart Sharpen on the eyes and lips, just to make them as sharp as they can be. And then I’ll usually use the Surface Blur filter and then make other adjustments depending on what I want to do with the image.
It is at this point I use this sharpening exercise. This is the only time, and method, that I would use to sharpen an image in this manner. Otherwise you’ll have some additional noise in the image and you won’t like the way it comes out if you sharpen like this before editing.