Posts Tagged ‘candid’

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?

Straight Down

October 27, 2009

Moving His Bike
This is why I always keep a camera handy in the apartment. This man was cleaning his motorcycle. I noticed him as he pushed it under a tree. As always red photographs well.

I took this with my ancient (2004) Canon EOS-300D and the cheap Canon 75-300mm lens (non-IS). The quality is fine for web display but I wouldn’t want to exhibit it.

I thought I was half a second late as he was partly under the tree. But I think it works quite well for a random shot.

What do you think?