Blurring the Background

If you are a student of Photoshop you will love this technique as I did.

Bryan Peterson is doing some Photo Critique videos, and some are interesting, and some, like this one – down right enlightening.  George Crudo gives a critique that is FULL of awesome tips and techniques to enhance your photos.  Check it out…  George Crudo critique

Not only does he talk about multiple techniques we can learn from, like color range – ability to enhance the color of specific areas like sky, subject, foreground – he also shares a cool technique for blurring the background.

Now I get that the best way to blur the background is to do it in camera.  But sometimes that is just not possible.  Not all my lenses can give me a wide aperture (and shallow depth of field) like f2.8.  Moreover, sometimes in the daylight with bright sun, I may not be able to have a large aperture, instead I have to use a small aperture like f/11 or f/16, which doesn’t help me blur the background.  Unless I want to use an ND filter to cut the light, I am forced to compose and take a photo that pretty much is what it is.

With George’s technique though, I can blur the background in post process.

baby teethPSi.JPG

Take this photo for instance.  I love the gesture / expression on the baby elk, but the background, while a little blurred is just too busy and takes away from my subject.

Using George’s technique, I can create a new layer in Photoshop (Command J), and quick select my subject (the elk), select the inverse (Command I) to select the background (all but the elk).  I then blur the background (Filter-Blur-Gaussian Blur).  Then using a brush paint back in the foreground.

baby teethPS2i.JPG

Fantastic!  Now my elk stands out more.

I must admit, I’m not one to Photoshop my photos much… a little tweak here, exposure adjustment there… but having useful tools in my toolbox is always appreciated.  Awesome tip.  Thanks, George.

Make it Blur

I have been taking a Photoshop class, and getting quite the refresher on Blur techniques.  I forgot the vast varieties of blurs that exist in Photoshop.  So I thought I’d have fun with it, and demonstrate several different blur techniques.

So many of my photos are Wildlife and Landscape.  I thought it would be good to use an example of blurring out background distractions… like crowds and people.  I solicited my photog friend, MaureenK.  MaureenK goes to lots of horse and car shows…. and you can always count of crowds to be present at those types of events.  She was willing to let me ‘have my way’ with one of her photos for the sake of my little BLUR exercise.  You can see more of MaureenK’s work on Flicker:

Here’s her original picture:

MK60D_AHS12_0015 copy

First up, I tried a RADIAL BLUR from the Photoshop toolbar, Filter-Blur-Radial Blur:MK-blk-rider-radial-bluri

Then I got creative and used the Filter-Blur Gallery-Pallette Knife, there are so many to choose from.MK-blk-rider-palatte-knifei

I got tired of this guy standing next to the horse watching me.  So with the power of Photoshop and it’s amazing Content Aware Fill, I selected him with my lasso tool, and deleted him before moving on to my next blur technique.

Then I used the Filter-Blur-Field Blur technique, setting focus pins and blur pins to identify what I wanted in and out of focus.  Cool tool.MK-blk-rdr-field-bluri

I had to try the Filter-Oil Paint technique while I was at it, for an interesting artsy look:MK-blk-rdr-oilpainti

And finally, since I was playing.  I decided this black horse and rider would be happy going to the beach:


Gotta love Photoshop!

Special thanks to MaureenK for letting me play with her picture.