Sometimes you want to artificially add blur during post processing to create a shallow depth of field. We all know that to get the effect in camera you’ll want a long lens or be up close to your subject, and have a wide open aperture. But sometimes it helps to add a little tweaks during editing. Maybe you want to create a fake tilt-shift effect. There are many ways to blur areas of your photo during editing. I’ll share one of my favorite methods: Gaussian Blur.
Step 1: Select the area you want to blur.
There are several ways to do this depending on your need. You’ll see in the photo below that the foreground already has some nice blur to it. I want to add some more. Just for the mere sake of showing a different selection method, I’m going to circle the subject with my lasso tool. Then I’m going to invert the selection. Now I have sections of the top and the bottom of the photo that are selected.
Step 2: Feather your selection
This is key so that when you add blur, there will not be a sharply distinct line between blurred and sharp areas. There are two places you can feather. At the bottom of the page if you have the tool options frame up, there is a feather slider. If you don’t see this, you can always go to the Select menu in the top tool bar. See below:
I usually feather about 100 pixels or so. If you use the slider move it to the right. Easy. If you use the tool bar at the top, a dialogue box opens and you have to type in the number of pixels to feather. Type 100 and hit OK.
Step 3: Add blur
You’re looking for the blur options under the filter heading in the top menu bar. Go to Gaussian blur.
Next you have to choose the radius to blur. The higher the radius, the more blur. You can see a preview of the net effect as you move the slider. I’m going to choose 5.4 pixels.
Hit OK and you’re done. Voila. I just created an even more shallow depth of field, placing more emphasis on my subject.
Next week we’ll discuss some other useful editing tricks in Photoshop Elements that might make your life a little easier.
Do you have any success or horror stories? Feel free to post your comments and questions to this post and I’ll be happy to discuss them. Happy shooting!
Bryan Rasmussen owns Chiseled Light Photography and is also a freelance photographer for a local newspaper. Follow him at www.facebook.com/ChiseledLight. He is also on Instagram, Flickr, and Fine Art America.