Monday, June 20, 2011
Defocus The Background
Center attention on what's important in your photographs
The bokeh effect can be created in postprocessing. The original version of the accompanying image was photographed with a wide-angle lens at ƒ/22—see photo where all is sharp. I created the version with the out-of-focus background in Photoshop using Gaussian Blur on a background copy layer.
Step 1: Duplicate the background layer by dragging it to the Create a New Layer icon (the icon with the dog-ear page) at the bottom of the layers palette. You could also go to the Layer pull-down menu and choose Duplicate Layer.
Step 2: Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Based on the size of your file, drag the Radius slider to the right until the area you want to appear out of focus takes on the look you want. Click on OK. At this point, the entire image appears soft—not to worry.
Step 3: Add a layer mask to the background copy by clicking on the Add Layer Mask icon (the square with a circle in the middle) at the bottom of the layers palette. You could also go to the Layer pull-down menu and choose Layer Mask>Reveal All. No visible change will occur.
If you make a mistake or want to paint some blur back into the image, switch the foreground color to White, and paint over the area you want to change. Be sure to use a very soft edge brush near any area where you want the effect to look gradual. The more intricate the detail in the transition zones, the more precisely you'll need to paint. Creating selective focus in post capture is very powerful. Add it to your bag of postprocessing tricks.
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