By shooting with a good camera and a lens with a wide open aperture, you can get a wonderful shallow depth of field. This effect is often used in portrait photography. You know perfectly well what it looks like – a beautiful, soft, unfocused background and at the same time a sharp subject. If there are light sources in the background, they turn into small circles called bokeh. They are easy to achieve at the stage of shooting with fairly good equipment. If you do not have a DSLR or need to improve an existing picture, this lesson will help you achieve a blurred focus effect in Photoshop.
I will show you how to create a soft, dreamy background using this photo as an example. We already have a small bokeh effect, but I want to make it more expressive and more romantic. It is usually achievable with a shallow depth of field achieved by a wide aperture.
First of all, we need to cut a pair. After I show the trick to get rid of the border around the edges, which usually appears when the background is blurred, and then we move on to the bokeh effect itself.
Step 1. Cut the subject
Why not start by simply cutting those in love with the Quick Selection tool. Select Fast selection (Quick Select Tool) and drag the mouse over the desired areas. Hold down the Alt key to remove unnecessary selections.
It looks good, but I want to check out my selection. Press Q, activating Fastmask (Quick Mask). We look at the missed areas. Looks pretty good. Press Q again, returning to standard mode.
Open the menu Selection and mask (Select and Mask). I’ll add some shine for a better view and clean up the selection. In the output settings, select Layer mask (Layer mask).
The pair is now on the layer mask.
Hide the top layer and select the bottom layer to see the entire background. Usually the following situation happens: if you try to just blur the layer, the edging will be visible around the subject. Here it looks like a glow or a split. Immediately press Cancel and let me show the best way.
Step 6. Cooking the background
Here is how to beat this problem. With the active background layer, click on the thumbnail of the mask layer while holding down the Ctrl key to generate a selection.
Go to menu Select> Modify> Expand (Select> Modify> Expand), enter 1 pixel and click OK. In the same way, blend the selection 1 pixel. As a result, we get a softer contour.
Use Fill based on content (Content Aware Fill). Hide the top layer to see what is happening.
Click Shift + Backspace, opening a dialog box Fill (Fill). Make sure the dropdown menu is selected. Given the content (Content Aware), then click OK. We again got the effect of edging, but it will not create problems in the future.
Turn on the layer again. We are almost there.
Step 10. Create a bokeh
Now we need a soft blurred background, but also we want to highlight the bokeh in the background. It will give a great romantic atmosphere. You will also get the impression that the shot was taken with a more expensive lens.
Make sure the background is highlighted, then go to the menu Filter > Blur > Blur fields (Filter> Blur Gallery> Field Blur).
We will apply this effect in Photoshop CC / CS6. Gallery blur appeared there is since CS6 (if you have an earlier version, just use the filter Blur at shallow depth of field (Lens Blur), it creates a similar effect).
When using the Blur field usually take two points. It will be enough for us alone. Right now the blur power is around 15 and we need to increase this parameter. For the right result, you will need to practice a little.
Let’s start with the item Light bokeh (Light Bokeh). Move it to the right until you see that the desired effect has appeared. Well, we do it, but the result still does not look quite right. Play with slider Light range (Light Range). You need to loosen it a bit, so drag the white triangle to the left. Also move the black pointer to the right, so that both of them are almost on top of each other – here we have the desired effect.
Let’s increase the blur, drag the slider a bit, and you will notice how the size of the round disks has increased.
At this stage, you need to get the right balance by playing with Light bokeh (Light Bokeh), Light range (Light Range) and Blurring (Blur).
If you hide the top layer again and look at the background, you can see how beautiful and seamless it became thanks to Fill based on the content. There is no edging or something like that and we managed to create the perfect effect.
Looking at the result before and after, it becomes obvious how much more romantic and dreamy the photo has become.