Learn To Apply Advanced Lens Blur Filter

 

Lens Blur Filter – an advanced blur filter unlike any other. As compared to other blur filters (Blur, Blur More and Gaussian Blur) which blur images in its entirety, Lens Blur Filter provides more control on how one wish to blur the image. By referring to the selected Greyscale, it is able to know where to apply blur and how much to apply. We are able to achieve gradual blur using this method.

Controls in a Lens Blur Filter panel

Image ID: 3262466 © Galyna Andrushko 123RF.com

Preview
Toggle to preview before and after applying the filter (the “Faster” option is preferred as “More Accurate” takes more time to load)

Depth Map (Greyscale selection)
Blur Focal Distance: Determines which shade of grey should the filter use to remain unblurred (0 being pure black).
Invert: Inverts the greyscale chosen.

Iris
Radius: Determines the amount of blur.
The Shape, Blade Curvature and Rotation: Simulates the aperture shapes of a camera. Those shapes would be most visible at the brightest part of an image.

Specular Highlights
Brightness: Dragging this slider to the right increases brightness when picture has become dull (Picture can become dull after blurring).
Threshold: Determines which shades of grey to be brightened (0 being pure black).

Noise
Blurred areas are rid of grains. Those unaffected areas might contain grains. Use the settings here to balance the grains of blurred and unblurred areas.

Simple example of Lens Blur Filter 
Examine the below pattern.

Image ID: 3136358 © Ka Ho Leung 123RF.com

This gradient is used as my Alpha channel in the following example.

This is an example of Lens Blur using the gradient above. Notice how the image gradually blurs more at the brightest areas and remains unaffected in the darker areas.

The difference in a Gaussian Blur.

Enhancing the Depth of Field of an image
Open an image and duplicate it.

Go to Windows > Channel and bring up the Channels Window. In there, click on the Add New Channel icon, using the default name “Alpha 1”.

Reset your Palette (D), fill it with white and click on the ‘reveal icon’ of RGB channel. You’re now in mask mode and can start masking.

We can use gradients, a softer or harder brush on Alpha 1 depending on the type of results you wish to achieve. Remember: the areas that we draw are the area we do not want to be affected.

Should you find the need for a softer touch, you can always blur your mask with Gaussian blur filter. The more shades of grey, the smoother the transition.

Apply your settings.

Result:

Faking Macro Mode
We can also simulate/fake a camera-blurred image. Think macro mode. I’ve selected a few images below, all with similar sharpness. What I am going to do is to montage the apples as one image, and apply a natural looking camera-blur to it.

Open the images:

Sliced Green Apple – Image ID: 4761189 © Sergey Peterman 123RF.com
Whole Green Apple – Image ID: 3743051 © Potapova Valeriya 123RF.com
Whole Red Apple – Image ID: 3735787 © Dmitry Margolin 123RF.com

Crop them out, and arrange as below:

I’ve roughly created a table and added shadows to the apples.

Next, what we want to do is to create a focal point. This point should be sharp and the rest being blur. Repeat the steps above. Next, use the gradient tool to create a shade on the red apple and apply Gaussian Blur to it so that the next transition is smoother (this step is optional).

Apply the settings and we will have the results.

 

Blurring Focussed Portraits
Below is another example of Lens Blur on an image I’ve montaged together. This time, it will focus on the model’s face and eyes while blurring the surroundings.

Background – Image ID: 300651 © Andrzej Tokarski 123RF.com
Girl – Image ID: 2133796 © Jason Stitt 123RF.com

 
Below is the grey scale channel that I’ve drawn using a soft brush, gradient tool and Gaussian Blur filter.


This is the final result. See what an impact Lens Blur has created to the image. Good luck trying!


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