Bokeh 2 User Interface
Once you’ve selected your subject in Photoshop, choose Filter > Alien Skin Bokeh 2 > Bokeh. This opens the Bokeh plugin window and applies a default group of settings to your photo (Figure 2). At left is a panel with three buttons, each one corresponding to a specific group of controls for blurring your image and creating vignettes. Here the Settings are visible, with the Factory Default applied to the statue.
Figure 2 The Bokeh 2 User Interface is powerful and easy to learn.
Above the main preview, you will find familiar options for controlling preview magnification, panning the preview and splitting the preview. Although scaled down here to be web-friendly, generally I find it’s helpful to expand the Bokeh window to its maximum size, and view the preview without splitting it. I also tend to use magnifications between 12.5 and 50%, because it is often necessary to leave some “empty space” around the image so that you can take full advantage of the Focus Region controls discussed herein.
To access the Preferences (Figure 3) in Bokeh 2, click the Help menu button and choose Preferences, or click Cmd-K (Mac) or Ctrl-K (PC). If you have several gigabytes of memory and do not require substantial amounts of RAM to be reserved for other apps while running Photoshop, I recommend setting this option to the maximum Speed value. This should boost preview and processing speed substantially.
Figure 3 The Bokeh 2 Preferences dialog box offers important options for optimizing speed, transparency previews, and more.
Taking a quick look over the Settings options, you’ll see these are the “presets” used by Bokeh 2. Generally, because I like to maintain a more natural photographic look, I start my Bokeh workflow with a lens preset. If you click open the Traditional Lenses list, you’ll find a range of popular lenses from which to choose. I often use the Nikon or Canon preset that most closely matches the focal length and aperture I used in the original shot.
For this demo, I decided on the Nikon 50mm f/5.6 preset as the foundation for the rest of the edits that we’ll discuss. This preset was chosen because of the normal perspective this focal length provides, and the blur quality and focus quality at f/5.6. Note that these presets are not true lens profiles as we have in the Photoshop CS5 Lens Correction filter, but approximations of “the look” each lens creates.