Photoshop has a number of different ways to add creative blurs or selective focus to your image. First, I’m going to convert this to a Smart Object by right clicking on the background layer and choosing Convert to Smart Object.
so pick this image
That way when I select Filter,and then Blur Gallery, Field Blur, Photoshop will add this as a Smart Filter. Photoshop puts a default pin in the center of the image. You can click in order to move that pin, and you can change the blur amount either using the on screen display or using the slider on the right-hand side. But using a single Field Blur isn’t that interesting. I’ll move this over to the right and then click on this house in order to add a second blur. With this blur, I’ll remove the blur so that we have a sharp, in focus area here. Then I’ll click again in the garden to add another Field Blur, and I can dial in the amount of blur that I want there. We can always drag and reposition these, and, if we hold down the M key, we can actually see the mask that Photoshop is creating in order to blend the different amounts of blurring in the image. And I can click and drag these and watch it redraw the mask interactively. I’ll release the M key. If I tap the P key, that will toggle off the preview. I’ll tap it again in order to toggle it on. I can tap and hold the H key in order to hide the pins and release the H key to see them again. And those keyboard shortcuts, the H and the P, will work for all of the different blurs.
All right, let’s toggle off the Field Blur, and I’m going to select the Iris Blur next. Now we have a circular blur with a pin in the center that we can drag to reposition. We have that same dial to increase the blur amount, and I can drag on the circle in order to resize it. If I want to make it more rectangular in shape, I can click on the square and drag out, or drag back in to make it a circle. These four dots here determine the fade range, so the image is not blurred at all in the center, and then when it gets to the first dot it slowly starts the blur, and it takes on a 100% of the blur by the time it reaches the outer circle. I can click in order to drag and reposition those, so that the blur starts a little bit more quickly, and I can hold down the Option key on the Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, if I want to reposition one independent of the others. If I want more of an oval instead of a circle, I can click on the dot there and change the shape, and then, if I need to rotate it, I can click and drag. All right, let’s switch to the Tilt-Shift Blur. I’ll disable the Iris Blur and enable Tilt-Shift. Again, we have the same pin to relocate it, as well as dial in the amount of blur. The area between these two solid gray lines is not blurred at all, and the fade range is between the solid gray and the dotted lines.
I can click on any of these lines in order to reposition them. I can hold down the Option key on Mac, Alt key on Windows, in order to reposition both of the lines in parallel. If I want to rotate the Tilt-Shift, I can position my cursor near the dot, but for me, sometimes that’s a little too sensitive, so you can also click and drag between the dashed and the straight line. Just don’t click. It has to be a click and drag. If you just click, it’s going to add another pin. I’ll just tap the Delete key in order to delete that, and then select the initial pin. In this example, I want to rotate it so that we’re at a diagonal, and then just move it over so that we’ve got the steps in focus. If we want to distort the area that’s being blurred, I can choose to distort in either direction, and I can also choose symmetric distortion if I want to distort not only in the foreground area here, or to the bottom portion of the pin, but also at the top. With all of these blurs, you will probably want to add back in a little bit of noise, otherwise the area that’s blurred will be nice and smooth, and the rest of the photograph will have the original grain that was created when it was captured. There are three options, Gaussian, Uniform and Grain.
I’m going to go with the Grain amount, since this was originally a digital photograph. As I move the amount over, we can see in the area that’s been blurred that there’s additive grain. I can change the size of that grain, making it very large or very small, and let me zoom in using Ctrl + 1 just to make sure that we can see this. So I’ll increase the size again. We can see that it gets much bigger. I can also change the Roughness, so to the right is going to be a lot more higher contrast and it looks a bit more splotchy, whereas if I take it down to the left, it’s going to be much smaller, and it actually looks like a process that we used to do in the darkroom called reticulation. So I’m going to reset the Roughness and bring that size way down, and take the amount down to maybe five or 6%. I’ll click OK in order to apply that filter, use Ctrl+ 0 to zoom out, and we can see on the layers panel that Photoshop has added the Blur Gallery Tilt-Shift as a Smart Filter. If I ever needed to make changes, I could double click on Blur Gallery, and if I ever wanted to selectively hide the filter, I could use the Smart Filter mask.
So as you can see, between the Iris Blur, the Tilt-Shift and the Field Blur, there are a number of ways to selectively blur your image in Photoshop.