How To Control Blur FX In Photoshop With Amazing Precision

Photographers use blur (or bokeh) for a variety of reasons: to enhance space through depth of field; to add interesting visual artifacts; to simplify them; to change the quality of their expression. In the past, blur was controlled almost entirely through exposure; now it can also be controlled during post-processing, giving photographers an unprecedented array of options and ways to customize the look and feel of their images. Knowing what you can do, how far you can go, and when you can do it may change the way you shoot, one time, sometimes, or all the time.

There are many blur filters in Photoshop; Field Blur, Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift, Gaussian Blur, Lens Blur, Motion Blur, Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Smart Blur, Surface Blur, in order of appearance in the Filter: Blur drop-down menu. (See A Quick Visual Comparison Of Photoshop's Blur Filters here.) The choices are extensive and it pays to familiarize yourself with your options by experimenting with them; you’ll find you have an extraordinary set of options that you can modify and combine creatively. If you only use the filters Gaussian Blur and Lens Blur, you’ll still have game-changing control at your fingertips, once you learn how to extend and modify them.

Photoshop's Lens Blur filter

There are several important non-destructive strategies you can use to gain more control over all filter effects that will enable you to go further in your explorations and generate more sophisticated and compelling results. Try one or all of the moves in this classic progression. Apply a filter to a duplicate layer and then modify its Opacity, Blend Mode, Blend If Sliders, and add a layer mask.


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A Quick Visual Comparison Of All Of Photoshop’s Blur Filters

A_1_BlurFiltersBefore

Before Blur FX

B_15_Tilt-ShiftBlur_full

After Blur FX

There are many reasons to explore blur in your images: remove distractions, direct attention, enhance space, modify mood and add interesting visual artifacts are a few among many. Blur can be controlled at the point of capture and in post-processing. Thoroughly understanding your post-processing options will help you make choices about when and how to control blur in your images before, during and after exposure.

When it comes to post-processing blur, you’ve got options! Photoshop currently offers 14 filters: Field Blur, Iris Blur, Tilt-Shift, Average, Blur, Blur More, Box Blur, Gaussian Blur, Lens Blur, Motion Blur, Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Smart Blur, Surface Blur – in order of appearance in the Filter > Blur drop-down menu. (If you want to extend your software palette even further, explore onOne Software’s FocalPoint.)

At first glance, the list is overwhelming. Where do you start? Get started with this quick visual survey of available options.

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One Simple Way To Make Photoshop’s Go To Filter High Pass Even More Useful

Indispensable, Photoshop’s High Pass filtration offers contrast and detail enhancement effects no other tool does. Some tools get close, but they’re not the same. 

(Read Curves, Clarity, Dehaze, High Pass, Texture and Sharpening Compared.)

High Pass filtration slip streams between detail enhancement or sharpening (at a low setting) and luminosity contrast adjustment (at a high setting). The two are intimately tied to one another and the difference is really just the granularity that the contrast is applied with. At a low setting High Pass filtration accentuates contrast along contours with a thin feathered line, while the flat gray areas surrounding contours on the high pass layer tend not to accentuation texture or noise. At a high setting High Pass filtration creates stronger contrast so broadly feathered that it creates a localized vignetting effect, accentuating the illusion of volume in the process.

(Read more here on How To Apply High Pass Filtration.)

The intensity of either or both of these high pass effects can be accentuated by adding more contrast to the high pass layer with Curves. Unlike raising the High Pass filter slider while you apply it, which increases the width of the lines on it, increasing the contrast of the layer with Curves does not; it simply makes the lines darker and the haloes brighter.

Take these steps ...


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Photoshop’s Amazing Colorize Filter Offers Many More Features

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Colin Smith shows often overlooked additional controls in the Photoshop Neural Filter Colorize. Convert black and white photos to color instantly and then learn these tools to perfect results.

Find out more from Colin Smith at Photoshop Cafe.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

How To Hack Photoshop’s AI To Get Astonishing Color Grading In Your Images

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Add spectacular color to photographs using this amazing trick Colin Smith discovered by hacking Color transfer in Photoshop 2022. This quick tip will help you color grade photos like a pro, but its so easy and quick. Every photographer will love this.
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What’s New in Photoshop 2022 For Photographers

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Matt Koslowski gives us a tour of Photoshop 2022’s new features for photographers.
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Adobe Photoshop 2022 Top New Features in 9 Minutes!

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“This video will cover the top 5 new features and updates in Photoshop version 23.0.0! In this video, we will look at some of the most significant new features like the Object Finder, Neural Filters, Mask All Objects, and so much more!”
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00:00 – Introduction
00:20 – Object Finder
02:10 – Mask All Objects
02:45 – Harmonization Neural Filter
05:12 – Landscape Mixer Neural Filter
05:48 – Commenting on Cloud Documents
07:14 – Paste Vectors from Adobe Illustrator
08:45 – In-App Tutorials 09:72 – Final Thoughts
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Photoshop 2022 – 9 New Features with Pros & Cons

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Unmesh Dinda takes us on an in-depth look at what Photoshop version 23.0.0 has to offer, going through all the new features and updates.
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00:00 Harmonization
02:17 Auto-Selections on Hover
03:10 Gradient Interpolation Options
04:42 Content Credentials
06:53 Improved Interoperability with Illustrator
08:35 Share for Commenting
09:53 Landscape Mixer
11:58 Improved Colorize
12:59 Color Transfer
13:56 Question to You!
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Photoshop 2022 Top New Features

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“Learn all the best new features of Photoshop 2022, learn the tips and tricks and how to use the new features in Photoshop. New Select subject, a range of new Neural filters, including Harmonize, Color Match and Landscape mixer. New Illustrator integration ACR masking and more.”
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Change Seasons In Your Photographs With 1 Click In Photoshop’s Landscape Mixer

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The new Landscape mixer in Photoshop 2022 enables you to change the weather or season in a photo automatically using Adobe Sensei AI engine. Colin Smith shows you how to use this new feature in the new Photoshop 2022 update.
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