Blur & Focus

About half of my recovery story will be shots of boys running around in the backyard playing football, and so in order to capture the full of effect, the pictures include a lot of background.  Because of that, I needed to develop a way to focus the viewers’ attention on what I want them to see without losing the effect the background, something more subtle than what the Adobe tutorial has.  The blur tool has thus become my best friend.

Original photo:

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I wanted this photo to have both groups of people in focus with the background around them slightly blurred.  Using a selection tool (I prefer the elliptical marquee, but the lasso works as well if you want to select a free form area), select one area that you want to not blur.   Then if you hold the shift button, you can select a second area.  Then inverse the selection (Select>inverse).  It should look something like this:

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Now, select the blur tool from the sidebar. 3

At the top of your screen, you can open a drop down menu and select the size, hardness, and type of blur that you want.

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Then simply click and drag the blur tool around the picture.  The beauty of selecting an area is that if you accidentally wander into the areas you don’t want to blur, it won’t blur (I think photoshop was made for people like me that do that sort of thing all the time).  It’s a very soft blur, but if you look at the red arrow in the photo below, you can see that the boundary is clear:

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At this point, I don’t particularly want to blur the photo and have the background be indiscernible, but I do want to bring the people into focus more than they are.  So inverse your selection again and use the sharpness tool (filter>sharpen>sharpen).  I went back into the filter menu afterwards and chose “sharpen more” just to bring it out a little bit more.

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Finally, I recommend playing with the brightness, contrast and vibrance of the areas.  It will bring them into focus without blurring the photo more.  Here’s an example of the brightness super exaggerated:

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Because the group of three has more significance in the larger scheme of my project, I actually deselected the areas and reselected them separately to play with the brightness/contrast/vibrance.  This is my final product:

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