Posts Tagged ‘blur’

Blurring the Background

November 13, 2009

One of the challenges of using a compact camera with a slow zoom lens is that it’s difficult to blur the background when required. Michael Willems here describes one technique – but it isn’t always possible.

But there’s another technique. You can blur the background in Photoshop. Yes, it is cheating and it is hard to do well so that it looks authentic. But I thought I would try an example.

I took this photo at Bang Sue Subway Station in northern Bangkok.

Bang Sue Junction Map

Is He There?

It was shot using the lens’s maximum aperture: F2.9, wide open.

It’s nice and sharp and I like the reflection of the student in the stainless steel guard rail. But the red taxi and tree in the background are a bit distracting.

In this case it is very easy to mask out the background. If part of the subject, especially hair, is commingled with the background it gets very time-consuming.

So I made a mask of the background in Photoshop and blurred it using the Photoshop “Lens Blur” filter. I could have used “Gaussian Blur” but I wanted to experiment. Lens Blur gives you lots of flexibility.

I also desaturated the background a little bit to give it more of an autumn tone. Not that we have autumn in Bangkok, but I am from a temperate country.

Here’s the result:

Is He There? (Mark 2)

I think it is better as it reduces the distraction of the bright red taxi and focuses more on the anxious university student.

What do you think of the effect? Is the photo obviously Photoshopped or could I convince you that I used a F1.4 lens?

The Hazards of a Walk in the Park

September 6, 2009

The Hazards of a Walk in the Park

I almost got run over by a cyclist in Lumphini Park yesterday. But I had time to take one picture as he sped by. The Nikon Coolpix P6000 is slow so he’d almost passed me and it was completely out of focus.

It looked like a reject in colour in Lightroom, but when I converted it to greyscale and adjusted the contrast I thought it became a moderately successful picture, conveying my surprise at encountering a fast moving but silent cyclist.

What do you think? I welcome comments and criticisms.