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Sharpening the iris in Photoshop

I thought if you don't use Adobe Lightroom to work on the eyes of your portraits, you can always sharpen them using Photoshop. This is the most quick and easy way to accomplish this process in Photoshop.

The original starting photo. We will work on Yasmina's eyes (right)

Step 1 - Duplicate the background layer

It goes without saying in all my Photoshop blog post that the first thing you should do is to duplicate the background layer, thus eliminating the unwanted error and working in a non-destructive way. To duplicate the layer just hit Ctrl + J (PC), Cmd + J (Mac).

Step 2 - Zoom close

Get the Zoom tool (hit Z) and zoom close on one of the eyes. Click on the mouse left button and release when you are happy with the closeup.

The Zoom Tool

Step 3 - Sharpen Tool

The Sharpen Tool 

Get the Sharpen tool from the toolbox. It looks like a triangle and it is located just under the Blur tool. In the Option Bat select "Protect Details" checkbox and lower the Strength amount to around 20%. Reduce the brush size using the '[' key and paint a few times over the entire iris, including the outside edge of it.

Step 4 - Layer Opacity and Blending Mode

Like everything in Photoshop, too much of everything is bad so we need to blend the Sharpening for a smoother effect. Lower the Layer Opacity as needed. Around 70% worked well for me.

Now change the Layer Blending Mode from  Normal to Luminosity so it sharpens the details and not the colors.

After we are done... Look at the details in the iris...