Taking photos has become an inextricable part of our daily lives. Whether you are capturing daily moments of your life, taking photos for the gram, or running a small business, photography’s everywhere.
But, sometimes, a moment is too fleeting to take a perfect picture. We all end up with blurred images on our phones. And more often than not, retaking it is not an option. Whether the moment has already gone by or you checked the photo too late, it’s no excuse. The photo is already ruined. Or is it?
There’s no need to let a tiny camera shake ruin the photo. There are ways to sharpen a blurred image and make it perfectly functional. Many apps, paid and free, let you unblur an image in a matter of minutes.
Note: Before you unblur an image, it’s advisable to make a copy. If the editing goes wrong, at least you won’t end up with an image worse than the original.
Unblur an Image on your Desktop
There are many apps for your desktop that’ll sharpen your image. One of the most popular and competent apps for the task is Adobe Photoshop. If you are already a paid user of Photoshop, this is also the most viable option for you.
Using Photoshop for Blurred Images
Adobe Photoshop users can unblur an image using a variety of options. The easiest and quickest option is using the ‘Unsharp Mask Filter’.
Open the image you want to unblur and go to the panel on the right. Under the option for ‘Layers’, select the layer. Then, go to ‘Filters’ and select ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu. Converting to Layers for Smart Filters allows you to edit and sharpen the image without changing it permanently. This way, if you don’t like the results, you can always go back to the original.
Go to the ‘Filter’ option on the menu bar and choose ‘Sharpen’ from the menu. Then select ‘Unsharp Mask’ from the submenu.
A dialog box for ‘Unsharp Mask’ will open. Adjust the sliders to the values where you are satisfied with the result. Preview the image before applying the changes. Then, click ‘OK’.
Photoshop also has a Shake Reduction filter that specializes in unblurring shaky images. If the blurriness of the image is the result of camera motion, use this tool instead. It can minimize blur resulting from various types of motions, including linear, arc-shaped, rotational, or zigzag. But the best thing about it is that Photoshop automatically analyzes the shaky regions of the image and determines the nature of the blur. It then extrapolates the corrections to the entire image.
Open the Filter menu, go to the ‘Sharpen’ option and select ‘Shake Reduction’ from the sub-menu.
The Shake Reduction dialog box will open in the right panel, and the corrected image will appear there. If you’re satisfied with Photoshop’s automatic corrections, click ‘OK’. Or, adjust the sliders to make changes yourself and then click OK.
Using Unsharp Mask in Photoshop is the most basic way to sharpen and unblur an image and the most suitable for a Photoshop beginner. You can also use other techniques like Smart Sharpen or High Pass Filter to achieve finer details in the final image. These methods require a certain familiarity with the software.
But Photoshop is paid and complicated. If you’re not familiar with the software, it might not be the best course of action for you. There are alternatives for the task at hand, with GIMP being one of the best of the lot.
Use GIMP to Unblur an Image
GIMP is free, open-source software that offers professional capabilities for image editing. Go to gimp.org/downloads and download and install the software on your system.
Open the image you want to unblur. Then, go to the panel on the left of the screen, and choose the ‘Blur/ Sharpen’ tool.
If you can’t find the tool right away, it might be tucked away with the Smudge tool. To make it selectable, go to the ‘Smudge’ tool and right-click on it.
Then, select ‘Blur/Sharpen’ from the menu.
The Blur/ Sharpen tool will activate, and the options for it will appear on the bottom half of the panel on the left.
Scroll down on the panel until you reach the option ‘Convolve Type’. Then, select the ‘Sharpen’ option. Also, select the rate at which you want to sharpen.
Now, drag your cursor over the image or the parts of the image you want to sharpen. You can increase/ decrease the size of the cursor to sharpen certain parts of the image clearly.
Unblur an Image on your iPhone
If you are an iPhone user, and the captured photo is only slightly blurry and already on your iPhone, you can also unblur it using your phone’s inherent editing capabilities.
Open the photo from the ‘Photos’ app on your iPhone and tap the ‘Edit’ button.
Scroll left on the enhancement tools until you reach the one for ‘Sharpness’.
Once Sharpness is selected, swipe right on the scale below and keep swiping until the image is unblurred. Then, tap ‘Done’ to save the changes.
When unblurring an image, it is important to not go overboard with the sharpening. If you overdo the sharpening, the resulting image won’t look any good or anything like the original. So, take your time to get the parameters right, even if it takes a few tries.
It’s also important to remember that this type of unblurring works only for images that were blurred during capturing them. If an image was blurred using editing software, you cannot unblur it, at least without knowledge of the algorithm used to originally blur the image.