Archive for February, 2010

Adding Dimension to Your Photos in Photoshop

February 1, 20100 Comments

You’ve just come back from a great trip and have a boatload of photos to process.   You’ve narrowed your cache down to a few really great shots for further processing and you want to make certain that the viewer’s eye focuses in on a particular part of the photo.   One way to do this is to shallow depth of field and direct the viewer’s eye in Photoshop.

The photo was recently taken in Cambodia by a friend of mine, Linda I’Anson.   You can see more of her great photography here:

Linda I ‘Anson Photography

I'Anson Photography

I really like the subject and the way Linda composed this photo, I just wish the depth of field was shallower.  My eye keeps wandering back and forth between the statue in the background and the darker statue in the foreground.  The statues seem to be competing to gain my attention.  I can tell by the focus in the photo that the statue on the left was the intended main subject and emphasis of the photo.

Photoshop to the rescue!

One way you can create the simulation of shallower depth of field is by using a blur filter in Photoshop.   Basically, I want to reduce the prominence of the statue in the background and make the focus the statue on the left, as initially intended.  Using a blur filter will also give the photo more dimension.

Original –

Cambodia - Before

Modified –

Cambodia - After

I probably could have added even more blur to the statue in the background, but as you can see it really gives the photo depth and causes the statue in the foreground to pop.  Since the statue in the rear is brighter, I also added a burn layer so it is not as prominent.

How did I do it you ask?  Well, it is really rather simple.  First I made a copy of the layer by clicking on Layer | Duplicate Layer…

Photoshop Layer menu

Then I added a Layer Mask.  You can add a layer mask by clicking on the icon that looks like a front loading washing machine in the layer palette, or from the Layer menu (Layer | Layer Mask | Reveal All).

Photoshop Layer Mask menu

Now add the blur.  In the layer palette, be sure the image in the layer  is selected.  It should be outlined with box as you see below.

Adding blur

On the Filter menu, click Blur | Gaussian Blur…

Gaussian blur selection

A window will appear similar to the screenshot below. Now adjust the radius for the amount of blur to obtain the effect you are looking to achieve.  At this point the entire photo will be blurry, but don’t worry, we’ll fix that in a moment.

Gaussian blur screenshot

Click OK.  Now we want to mask the statue in the foreground so the blur is hidden and the statue is sharp.  To do this we paint on the image with black with the layer mask selected.  Remember this, black conceals, white reveals.  Be sure the layer mask is selected or you will end up painting over your image!

Layer mask

Now select the brush tool, set the hardness to 50%, make sure black is selected and start painting over the section of the image where we want to conceal the blur we applied earlier.  If you make a mistake, you can switch to white and go over the area to reveal the blur again.

In Linda’s image you can see the mask that was applied revealing the foreground statue sharp and the statue in the background blurred.

Result of mask

If you want to apply some feathering and reduce the hard edge of the mask. you can blur the mask, but I’ll leave that to another lesson.

Until next time – Jim

Share Button

Back to Top

×