How to add depth to your photos.

By Mike Fernandez


Basic Techniques
Tools used
Further Links

Basic Techniques

Photo blurs are used in a variety of ways. It is primarily used to show depth in a picture but can also be used to show a glow as seen in studio pictures. Using this technique in images on your website will give it a more professonal look.

Users with Photo CS will benefit most with this tutorial as Adobe added a new Filter called the Lens Blur. This gives the illusion of the natural blur a professional camera gives to show depth. This differs from the "photochopped" method of using the Gaussian blur in that it does not soften your image, it simply refocuses parts of the image.

Now that you have learned layers in one of our previous tutorials, we will now advance to the interaction of one layer to another to give the refocused/blurred effect. This effect is usually seen in car advertisments so we will follow a similar approach in this tutorial


Photoshop CS Tools

The photoshop tools that we will use in this tutorial will be the Lasso Tool and the Layer Mask.
The Lasso Tool is a freehand tool artists use to select an organic object within an image.
The Layer Mask acts as a curtain in front of the active Layer. Everything that is colored black on the Layer mask will be hidden while the white areas will be shown. This will make more sense when we go through the tutorial.

We will use the Lens Blur filter to give us subtle yet different illusion.

Lets begin the tutorial.
  1. You will need a photo. (download)
  2. Open photo in Photoshop.
  3. Create a copy of the Background Layer. To do this, click and drag the Background layer to the icon.
  4. Label the new layer as Blur
  5. Sketch the outline of the car with the Lasso tool (Shortcut key: L)
  6. Once you get the sketch of the car, Select the Inverse (Shift+Ctrl+I)
  7. Now click the Add Layer Mask button. You will see another thumbnail next to the real image. This is known as a mask.
  8. Make the Blur layer your Active layer and Apply a Lens Blur effect.
    Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur (Iris Radius: 6)
    ** For those without Photoshop CS, use Gaussain Blur (Radius: 2px).
  9. Now you are done and complete.

If you would like to see how it was made, download the PSD file and open it with Photoshop.

You can also use this Masking technique to change the eye color in photos that have the "photograph red-eye". It can also be used to create that glowing effect in studio photos.


Lens Blur


Combination of Several Filters/Adjustments
Studio Picture Effect, No Red Eye, Blemish Cover


Below are a few links.

Total Training - A Video explaining the new Lens Blur filter in Photoshop.
Depth of Field - The basic theory behind the depth of field when taking photos.