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Blurring Backgrounds

  • Blurring a background can be useful to make it less distracting and separate the subject in a more effective way. 


  • Just masking the subject and blurring the background does not work as the subject blurs into the background creating a halo around it. This can be removed by cloning some of the background over the halo, or by using the Spot Healing Brush to replace the subject with background.
  • Simulating the depth of field given by a camera is possible by applying a graduated blur. The Tilt-Shift Filter can be used to apply a blur gradient where the blur is less at the bottom, where the background is closer and more at the top, where the background is further away.
  • Applying the blur filter as a Smart Object will allow you to go back and edit the blur after applying it, as otherwise blurring is destructive and can not be undone or changed.
  • Add at least 20% grain to the blur, as otherwise it will not match the texture of the image. (Ref 10:00).
  • Backgrounds should not be sharper than the subject.
  • Using Box Blur rather than the usual Gaussian Blur produces a more realistic blur. (Ref, Ref)