Photoshop: I have not been able to blur my backgrounds in photoshop.

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  • Updated 4 months ago
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I have followed every tutorial out there but every time it just does not work! I'm becoming very frustrated with the issue and it is effecting my job (photographer)
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Elaine Harper

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  • frustrated

Posted 4 months ago

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Jerry Syder

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What method have you tried? Also, do you want to drop a screengrab of your layers so we can see which layer is selected and the conditions of that layer when trying to blur i.e. is it locked etc.?
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Cristen Gillespie

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Have you tried using Lens Blur, rather than the Blur gallery? It might offer more control for your needs. But we need, as Mr Syder says, more information about what you've tried. There are a lot of tutorials out there, and I find often reading the online help at Adobe is more informative than some of those tutorials.
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Warren Heaton

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Is the issue that you're trying to blur just the background and keep the foreground subject in focus?

If so, the quickest tips that I can think of are to use the following:
  1. Layer > Duplicate Layer... so that you're not working on your original image.
  2. Select > Subject to select the subject.
  3. Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to copy the subject to a new layer.
  4. Select > Load Selection... to load the layer transparency as a new selection.
  5. Select > Modify > Expand... to expand the selection 10 to 20 pixels.
  6. With the expanded selection active, target the duplicate of the original background and choose Edit > Content-Aware Fill; adjust the Content-Aware Fill options such that it looks like the subject was never in the shot as best as possible (you really only care about the edges of the subject); set the Output To to Current Layer; and then click OK.
  7. Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters and then pick from Filter > Blur or Filter Blur Gallery to blur the background.

Of course, there's no shortage of variations to how one might approach this, not to mention subtle refinements that may be needed at each step along the way.   The best solution might be a hands-on Photoshop class with an instructor.
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David Converse

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I'm a photographer and always thought you got blurred backgrounds with a large aperture lens. Silly me.
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Warren Heaton

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In-camera totally works!  And that's probably what most photographers do.  It may even be safe to say that it's not even remotely high on a professional photographer's "must have" list.

But did you ever have a chance to play with a Lytro camera that allowed us to refocus images after being taken?  It was pretty amazing but never took off.  I purchased the original version used from B&H Photo Video just to play with it and a client owned the Lytro ILLUM 2015 CP+.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lytro

Of course, we have something similar now with iPhone 7 and up that shoot stills in Portrait Mode. 

All that said, if I'm working on a marketing campaign, I prefer to have everything in focus and then adjust it as needed later.
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Cristen Gillespie

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> I'm a photographer and always thought you got blurred backgrounds with a large aperture lens. Silly me.>

You do know that today everyone is a photographer, but not always in control over the camera and lens they have with them at the moment? Every photographer always says that the best camera/lens combination to use is the one you have with you. <BG>

All image editing apps can blur—some better than others, but none can do so realistically without the considerable assistance of the person doing post. I doubt many video tutorials can really teach the art, either. It takes a lot of learning about the different blurs, when to use which, how to add back texture (typically done with noise, but what noise filter is adjustable enough to help, not hinder), how to mask (usually necessary), what a "realistic" wide open aperture would display in each type of image if you want it to look like you did capture it in camera. Lots to learn and consider.

It's always easier if you can capture it in camera. It just doesn't always happen.
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David Converse

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I've tried doing blur in post as an experiment. It always looks awful.

I'm reacting to the "it is effecting [sic] my job" statement.
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Warren Heaton

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In general, I find it works well for close ups and medium shots.  For wide shots, more layering is usually involved.