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Adding Depth of Field Effects to Your Images

One of the great filters added to Photoshop is the Blur Filters. I use them all of the time, but what if you don’t have Photoshop and want to add a blur? Well, you are not without hope. Let me show you a little trick.

If you take and change the Clarity and Sharpness sliders to negative, you in essence apply a bit of a blur, so why not use your adjustment tools to create fields of blur?

gradient blur settings

crank the Clarity and Sharpness down

Simply crank the two settings down to -100 and start painting with the Adjustment brush, or use the Radial tool.

However, one of my favorite ways is to use the Gradient tool. This applies a gradual blur that you control… and if you understand how it works you can give your image a pseudo-tilt shift blur or just blur out areas to degrade the depth of field. For instance, let’s look at the Aged photo from last week. If I start adding gradient blur areas around the buffalo, it now looks like the lens was of lower quality and had more pockets of blurriness which adds to the effect of telling our eyes the image is older.

gradient blur

Notice the multiple Gradient tool points that are applied… use as many as you need

Just a couple of quick pulls of the gradient tool cursor and you have a unique area of blurring. Play around with it, you will see how easy it is…

final

final image with blurring applied

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13 comments

  1. Brett 13 May, 2016 at 06:16 Reply

    I’ll try with the gradient tool. Sounds like a gradual, more realistic depth-of-filed type blur. I can always use the adjustment brush to mask out anything I don’t want blurred. Thanks

    • redowan nafi 29 October, 2015 at 08:41 Reply

      lightroom actually has.You can uhttp://www.wildlife-photography-tips.com/lightroom-tutorials.htmlse brush and masking to do it much more efficiently……..

      • Vers TeeEff 31 December, 2015 at 13:30 Reply

        Seriously? That’s the exact same technique applied to a brush instead of a grad. It’s still very hard to apply apply the right amount/characteristic of the blur.

        If your dealing with local adjustments that requires more complex masking, you still need to head over to photoshop. Lightroom is incredibly powerful, but when you get into this amount of work and modification to the actual image, you need you use the right tool; This is like scrubbing floors with a toothbrush instead of a mop.

  2. Steve 23 February, 2015 at 19:37 Reply

    I get same effect using the Adjustment Brush by highlighting the background then pulling down the sharpness slider. I also use the exposure slider to darken the background to give more attention to the foreground.

  3. Steve 23 February, 2015 at 19:37 Reply

    I get same effect using the Adjustment Brush by highlighting the background then pulling down the sharpness slider. I also use the exposure slider to darken the background to give more attention to the foreground.

  4. Jacob 23 February, 2015 at 17:32 Reply

    Nice article. It is amazing how many different ways to achieve similar results. I learn something new every day, and than try to apply it to my workflow. Keep’em coming Pete.
    Thanks,
    Jacob

  5. John D Pappas 18 February, 2015 at 16:03 Reply

    LOVE this technique. I’ve used it to selectively enhance or alter the color of light in a photograph, having watched a video that David Ziser had produced a few years back. I’ve learned a lot in just reading a couple of the KillerTips, even though I feel pretty comfortable working in LR5, having attended an introduction to LR3 with Scott and Matt a few years ago in Philadelphia…THANKS for sharing these great techniques!

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