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Bokeh 2: Adding Soft Background Focus

Article Description

Photoshop expert Dan Moughamian explains how Alien Skin Software’s Bokeh 2 provides intuitive and powerful options for selectively blurring your digital photos. Common uses include blurring unwanted background details, creating the “bokeh effect” behind a close-up subject, and creating faux miniature cityscapes and landscapes.
Using the Half Region

Using the Half Region

My objective for this shot was to leave the small flowering plants at the bottom of the frame slightly more focused than the rest of the plants and background. To do this I chose the Half Region workflow.

Once I added the Half region widget to my preview, I clicked and dragged the small square located on the focus line, to move the region’s focus point near the bottom of the frame (Figure 9). This ensured the original details in that are of the frame were not blurred. Note that the statue remains completely in focus because it was selected before entering the Bokeh 2 filter.

Figure 9 The first step to customizing a Planar or Half region is to position the focus on the spot where you want to maintain your details.

The result looked OK but the transition between the focused area and blurred area was too drastic; it needed to be smoothed out. To do this I clicked and dragged the dashed line upward about 100 pixels. If you press the M key before you drag, you will see a preview of the composite mask (that is, a mask that includes your original Photoshop selection data). This is very helpful in seeing where the focus drops off and the blurring begins (Figure 10).

Figure 10 Press the M key before you drag out the focus boundary widgets, to get more precise results.

Press M again to reveal the image preview and check the changes you made. (The black and grey strip at the bottom of the image is the preview progress meter.)As you can see from Figure 11, the expanded transition region has created a more natural looking focus effect where, as the plants get further from the camera, they become less focused.

Figure 11 Expanding the transition between the focus and blur areas is a quick way to ensure a more realistic result.

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