She’s Got Her Daddy’s Eyes


When anyone looks at the eyes of either of my girls, they always comment that they have beautiful eyes. Wanting to close my eyes so they don’t see the muddled grey/hazel combo I have going on I quickly tell them, “She’s got her Daddy’s eyes.” Both of my girls were blessed with their daddy’s beautiful blue eyes. I love looking at them! Sometimes, especially with my oldest who is so busy talking that she doesn’t notice, I just sit and stare into her eyes. I look at my reflection. They are big and blue and bright and they amaze me. However, I find that when I photograph them they don’t have the same affect on me. Even though I work hard to focus on the eyes when I compose my shot, the final photos seem to lack some of the brightness that usually captivates me.

So, in my editing process, if the photo calls for it, I have started to sharpen the eyes a bit. Just enough to make them pop and to draw the veiwer straight to the eye — the way it happens in real life. As with anything in Photoshop, there are MANY ways to do this. But I am always a fan of easy and fast, so that is what I am going to share. I’ve got two for you!

Reader and friend Whitney (the one who made the great vignette action for you) shares the best method for her: a Photoshop action by Pioneer Woman. Here is what Whtiney says:

They are free on her site, in set 2 there is a Bring on the Eyes action. The trick is after you run that action to run the Sharpen This action in the same pack. I reduce both opacities to 20% unless the eyes are dark and then I might bring up the bring on the eyes action just a bit. This has worked the best of anything I have found, adding a little lightness and some sharpening in an easy to use action. Here’s a before and after…”


HERE is a link to Pioneer Woman’s set 2 of Photoshop Actions (scroll down to the bottom of the post where you will see a link for “Download Pioneer Woman Action Set 2.”

If you don’t have Photoshop or you want to learn how to do it without an action, here is a fast and easy method I use in Photoshop Elements.

First, here is the same picture I used for the black and white tutorial and the picture that was the prelude to the onslaught of requests for the eye sharpening tutorial 🙂 The picture on the left is the orginal (SOOC) and the one on the right is after being color/light corrected.


The photo is good, but I just want to make those beautiful eyes sparkle a bit more — the way they do in real life! So here is what I do:

1. Make a loose selection around the eyes. I use my quick selection tool but you could use the regular lasso tool as well. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and I usually am happy to grab those eye lashes as well.


2. Copy and past this section to put it on its own layer


3. Go to Filter > Other > High Pass


4. Change the radius to around 4 pixels


5. Don’t get scared! Your eyes will now be a crazy grey color and you will think you screwed up. You didn’t.


6. Change the blending mode on the eye layer to OVERLAY


7. Adjust to opacity of the eye layer so that it looks natural and then merge your layers. Easy! See what a difference it makes?



1. Any editing you do to photos is to make good photos better. Editing, actions, etc. are not for saving bad pictures. This technique will not make seriously out of focus eyes clear. It works best on photos where the eyes are already sharp, but just need a little more pop.

2. Do all other editing before sharpening the eyes. If needed, you can use the dodge tool a bit in the whites of the eyes to lighten them up.

3. Although it can be fun to see the amazing difference with this tutorial, don’t go overboard! Don’t keep the opacity of the sharpened layer so high that your kid now looks like a space alien because his eyes are so bright and so white. Go easy on the kid (and the sharpening!)

4. Eye sharpening is best for photos where the eyes and the face are the subject of the photo. Due to its subtleties, eyes that have been sharpened instantly draw the viewer in. If the main emphasis of the photo is supposed to be on something other than the eyes, leave this technique for another photo.

5. In order to get better eye photos to begin with, make sure you focus on the eye when you compose your shot. Your camera needs to grab hold of a spot to focus on, and it needs some contrast to do that. So, it is best to set your focus point on the corner of the eye, lock focus (if you don’t know how to do this consult your camera manual), and recompose if necessary. Then shoot!