Photoshop Tutorial: Sharpen a Nature Photo with the Unsharp Mask filter

The Unsharp Mask filter is a powerful tool that can be used to sharpen photos and make them appear more detailed. It is especially useful for sharpening nature photos, which often contain a lot of fine details that can get lost in the noise and blur of a digital image.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the Unsharp Mask filter to sharpen a nature photo:

Step 1: Open your photo in Photoshop.

The Unsharp Mask filter is available in both the 2D and 3D versions of Photoshop. In this tutorial, we will be using the 2D version.

Step 2: Create a duplicate of your photo layer.

This is important because the Unsharp Mask filter is destructive, meaning that it will permanently change your photo. By duplicating your photo layer, you will create a backup in case you are unhappy with the results.

Step 3: Apply the Unsharp Mask filter.

To apply the Unsharp Mask filter, go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.

Step 4: Adjust the Unsharp Mask settings.

The Unsharp Mask filter has three settings: Amount, Radius, and Threshold.

  • Amount: This setting determines how much contrast is added to the edges of the image. A higher amount will result in a sharper image, but it may also cause halos and artifacts.
  • Radius: This setting determines how wide the sharpening effect is. A higher radius will sharpen a wider area around the edges of the image.
  • Threshold: This setting determines how different the pixels must be from their surrounding pixels before they are considered edge pixels. A lower threshold will sharpen more subtle details, but it may also result in halos and artifacts.

Start by setting the Amount to 100%, the Radius to 1 pixel, and the Threshold to 3. This is a good starting point for most nature photos.

Step 5: Preview the sharpening effect.

The Unsharp Mask filter has a live preview, so you can see how your changes are affecting the image as you make them. Zoom in on your photo to see the details more clearly.

Step 6: Adjust the settings as needed.

Once you have a good starting point, you may need to adjust the Amount, Radius, and Threshold settings to your liking. Experiment with different values to see which ones produce the best results for your photo.

Step 7: Save your work.

Once you are happy with the sharpness of your photo, save your work.

Here are some additional tips for sharpening a nature photo with the Unsharp Mask filter:

  • Use a lower Amount setting for images with a lot of fine detail, such as landscapes and wildlife photos.
  • Use a higher Radius setting for images with larger objects, such as portraits and product photos.
  • Increase the Threshold setting if you are seeing halos or artifacts.
  • Use the Smudge tool to blend the sharpened edges if they are looking too harsh.


The Unsharp Mask filter is a powerful tool that can help you to create sharper and more detailed nature photos. By following the steps in this tutorial, you can learn how to use this filter to enhance your own photos.