Probably not Beginner but follow
carefully & give it a try!
What you will learn:
How to give your photos a dreamy
How to create a depth map
Working with an alpha channel
The Lens Blur filter gives the effect of a narrow
depth of field, keeping some parts of the image in focus, whilst
blurring the rest. This filter allows you to take photos which as
perfectly crisp and clear, and add selective blurring later, with
wonderful control over Highlight (keeping the whites bright), Iris
and Noise, together with of course the degree of blur.
Often it’s a distracting background that can spoil a photograph
for us, or maybe you’d just like the photo to have a dreamy
feel without additional filters. Obviously, you don’t want
the whole photo to be blurred, so you need to tell Photoshop just
where you want the blur, and how much. We do this with simple selections
with the selection tools, or with masks & alpha channels - basically
it treats black as though it were in front of the photo, white will
be more at a distance, with shades of grey in between.
In my example I’m using a photo of baby Joshua,
I love this photo but fell it could do with a bit of dreaminess.
Maybe for practice you could find on to which you’d like to
give the same type of look?
Open the photograph you want to work on & duplicate it as you
don’t want to work on the original. Then use one of the selection
tools, probably one of the lassos to make a selection around the
subject, in my case baby Josh. Don’t worry about being too
accurate, because now you are going to soften the edge with feathering.
I have given mine a feather of 60. Now Select > Inverse so that
the background becomes blurred not Josh! (If you forget this step
Photoshop have provided for you! There is a check box in the filter
itself for inverse!)
Once you have saved your selection, click on the “Channels”
tab, just to the right of the “Layer” or at the top,
Window > Channels. Scroll down & you will see your selection
at the bottom waiting for you. At this stage your selection is saved,
you can deselect, make further selections in new channels.
The screenshot to the left shows the “eyes” clicked
on in each of the channels – try clicking the RGB one off
& see what happens? Yes, you see your subject in black on a
white background – just what you want as remember, the lens
blur will see black pixels in front, white further away. To add
to the softness, I pulled a radial gradient, black to white, from
the tip of Josh’s nose (the point that would be closest to
the camera) out to a corner..
Now click off the eye on your selection channel in the channels
palette, and return to the layers palette. You will notice that
the top layer ( mine is labeled” Background copy”) is
grey, click on this to activate it. Select Filter > Blur >
You will now see the Lens Blur’s dialog box (see left) with
a full preview of your photo.
1. Click here to zoom in / zoom out.
2. Preview is checked by defauklt so that you can see what is happening.
Just below are 2 buttons faster & More Accurate – leave
Faster checked for now, More accurate slows things down considerably
& does NOT affect the final result, only the preview.
3. In the drop down box – if you are following my example
select as the source your selection channel, in my case its Baby
4. Blur Focal Distance affects the degree of blurring, move until
you are happy with what you see. If as I have in my example, a depth
map loaded you can click in the image to fine tune the blurring
– I found that clicking on his right eye gave me the best
result in the end.
5. Specular Highlights – one of the features which makes the
lens blur so good – in normal blurring, white pixels take
on a grey tinge, this slider allows you to whiten the whites!
6. It seems you can safely go higher on the brightness, but very
carefully with Threshold – a tiny movement makes a huge difference.
7. Noise & film grain are softened by blurring, add them back
with this slider – I chose 3
The Iris sliders I left default. At this stage I don’t know
enough about photography to be able to be too critical of them –
but if you do, they are apparently wonderful!
The final result – my dreamy picture of Josh in the Sun!
I do hope you have enjoyed working through this
tutorial – there is LOTS more in the lens blur, read up on
it & play with it all you can! As with anything in Photoshop
there are many ways to do everything – this is just one of
the many ways you can use the lens blur – I hope you will
find lots more