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Add Blur to Isolate Your Subject

by Ollie Bradson
(London, England)

Result of applying blur!

Result of applying blur!

I really like using a great little trick where you make parts of a photo blurry to increase the impact of the subject that remains in focus.

This is what I do:

1. Get my photo open in Photoshop and do any preliminary editing - including sharpening. I sharpen the whole pic the amount I want the main subject, that will not end up blurry, to be.

2. I then duplicate this background layer to create an identical one on top of it.

3. Next I go Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Based on the preview that appears in the dialogue box, I set the radius for pixels. In the picture I've uploaded 15 seemed about right.

4. So once that's set I just get the eraser and slowly erase around the main subject (pink flower in uploaded pic) - making sure the top layer with the blur is selected. This brings through the original sharpened layer, leaving the rest of the photo blurred.

5. As I move further away from the subject, I decrease the opacity of the eraser tool so it gives a realistic effect and doesn't look artificial.

6. Finally I flatten the picture and save. It's a really cool thing - I use it loads with portrait shots too. Sometimes I blur the background behind a person's face, or blur their nose a bit to focus more on their eyes. Try it out!

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It Works!
by: Rich

This works great. I just gave it a go on a portrait shot of my daughter and it really improved it. Focuses attention on the subject really well. Good tip about lowering opacity of the eraser too - really makes it look like a wider aperture was used!

by: Sarah

Thanks for this little tutorial Ollie. I've been wondering if there was a way to do this. Now I know! Off to try it straight away.

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