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Thread: Blurring the background.

  1. #1
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    Default Blurring the background.

    I have a great deal of difficulty selectively blurring the background and finishing up with a picture that is believable. This one finished up looking like a cut-n-paste job, but it's not. I use Photoshop CS4. To begin with, I used curves to put a little more contrast into the feathers. Then selected the raven, Inversed the selection, used the blur filter, then removed the selection and sharpened the image. All suggestions, criticisms welcome.
    Margaret Leggoe
    Never too old to learn.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    How did you select the raven? what tools/process did you use? And please post the original before blurring the BG too.
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    I use quick masks to make the initial selection, if you're very patient and make the mask very accurate you will totally avoid the cut 'n' paste appearance.

    Once I've masked it off, I turn the mask into a selection, then by applying a gaussian blur to the selected background you can make it look as smooth or as clean as you like.

    You might notice heavy use of the gaussian blur tool will lead to some banding issues in the background, the trick to getting rid of these is to actually use the 'add noise' filter in Photoshop and add a tiny bit of grain back into the image.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    Attached is the uncropped .tif version of the original RAW. In RAW, I would have reduced the noise just slightly and put in a little contrast before converting using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software and converted to .tif from that program. RAW size, 27,162 KB and .tif size 105,135 KB. I would have painted on the mask because selecting colour range wouldn't work with so many neutral tones. I would have done the edges at 100% view using about 5pixel brush. My ancient hand ain't as steady as I would like it to be. I used Gaussian blur up to about 30. I cloned out the orange rock or whatever it was. Sharpening in this case was Smart Sharpen with the Highlight fade set pretty high to avoid speckling. If it is a low res (i.e. heavily cropped) picture I prefer Unsharp Mask because you can set the threshhold where it looks best.
    I'm really enjoying the feedback I get from Feathers and Photos. David Taylor told me about BirdingOz around Christmas time, but I have only just done something about it.
    Margaret Leggoe
    Never too old to learn.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    More than one way to skin a cat apparently, but not unlike Richard I would;

    click on "quick selection tool" (standard pc shortcut "W")
    -pull out a sloppy mask of the subject & then click on the "refine edge" option above your image.

    Select "black + White" view mode in the new box that pops up.
    Ensure output is set to 'new layer with layer mask' - keep all other options at 0.
    "paint" around your subjects edge - again, doesnt have to be accurate - You will be left with a B+W approximation of your mask that has lots of bleeding in the blacks & whites.
    To tidy up your mask altclick in the bled out areas (both black & white)
    When your happy that its as good as its going to get without manually editing your mask with a black or white paintbrush click on "ok".

    Select your newly made mask - go into 'select' then 'load selection' - press inverse.

    Make another layer copy of your image without the 1st mask applied then click on the 'add layer mask' icon at the bottom of your layers palette.
    With that new layer now make sure that the actual image is sselected and not the mask by clicking on the thumbnail.

    Go to "filter" - "blur" - "lens blur"
    Ensure 'depth map source' is set to 'layer mask'
    play with the iris radius until you have the blur strength you are looking for then click on OK.

    Make as many copy layers as you feel neccessary & use an eraser set to 'soft round pressure' (low opacity) to go along your blurred image edges to reintroduce areas you may have clipped. Also try running the clone stamp tool at low opacity along your edges to knock away that cut out look.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    OK Margaret I hope this helps. Often when you mask off areas of an image you need to combine approaches as certain tools work better than others in different situations. You could use the quick selection tool as Rich & Karl have suggest but just to prove something I think the best way to go here is the Color Range command in conjunction with other painting methods. My repost of the 2nd image you posted took me 1 minute (a rushed job).

    Quote Originally Posted by Margaret Leggoe
    I would have painted on the mask because selecting colour range wouldn't work with so many neutral tones.
    For color range to work on this image select the raven (adjusting the fuzziness slider to keep the range tight, I lowered it to 10) once you click on the bird then hold the shift key (add to current selection) as you click on other areas of the bird. (move the fuzziness slider back and forth to see how it works. It is basically the same as the Tolerance slider with the Magic Wand except Fuzziness works on the fly where as Tolerance is a static adjustment).

    Once you have selected as much of the bird as possible click OK then add a new adjustment layer. Then CTRL + click on the mask to invert it. From there you can ALT + click on the mask to clean it up by the painting method which Karl mentioned above.

    Ask more questions if it is not clear. I won't bother discussing the blur.
    Cheers,
    Geoff


    reposts welcome

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    I feel it is easier to try and create that effect in camera than fiddle with software later. If one were to spend as much time "working" a subject as trying to post process a poorer looking image then it is possible to achieve the desired look. I mean this with good intention. Cheers.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    I'm with Akos here I've never been happy with PS blurred BGs much better working you subject and using wide apertures in the field, I've always had noticable halo effects no matter how good the selection, as the blur tool seems to create a halo around the object. I will do light blurring though and that is quite controllable.
    Chris Ross
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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisRoss
    I'm with Akos here I've never been happy with PS blurred BGs much better working you subject and using wide apertures in the field, I've always had noticable halo effects no matter how good the selection, as the blur tool seems to create a halo around the object. I will do light blurring though and that is quite controllable.
    I agree with both of you at least in part - Its always nicer not to have to manipulate your image in this regard post, but I believe Margaret was asking for help processing this particular image.
    Personally I havent artificially blurred a background for well over a year - from my point of view too time consuming when as you say, you can get it right in the field with a bit of forethought.
    With that in mind I still think that being able to draw out accurate masks is a valuable transferable skill to know.
    Great for color/tonal tweaks, selectively sharpening elements etc
    & as Geoff said, one that often requires a combined approach.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    [quote="Charleybird"]I agree with both of you at least in part - Its always nicer not to have to manipulate your image in this regard post, but I believe Margaret was asking for help processing this particular image.
    quote]

    Fair enough, I guess the point I was trying to make is that it not just how you go about making selections that gives you problems, even with a perfect pixel level selection the gaussian blur tool and other methods of blurring the BG give artifacts around the subject and often the way the subject DOF falls away doesn't look quite right. A couple of things I have found that help busy BGs is to reduce BG contrast, a reverse "S" curve is quite effective and overall brightening or dakening of the BG, depending on the subject.
    Chris Ross
    Helensburgh NSW
    www.aus-natural.com
    Instagram: @ausnaturalimages

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    Following on from the help you good folk have given me, I concluded it is the interface between the BG and the subject is my biggest problem. I searched in Lynda.com for a tutorial that deals with mask edges. I found a very helpful one given by Jan Kabili. Course: Photoshop CS4, Layer Masks in Depth. Chapter 3: Refining Layer Masks. Movie: Fine-tuning mask edges. Thank you all again.

    I'm not sure whether I have overstepped the mark by mentioning a specific site.
    Margaret Leggoe
    Never too old to learn.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    And finally, I have produced this version, using radius and smooth to improve the edge of my selection, and using a combination of desaturation and slight blurring for the background. I think it's an improvement. Many thanks again.
    Margaret Leggoe
    Never too old to learn.

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    Looks to be a great improvement, seems you have it figured out. Nice work.
    Reposts welcome =)

    Blog- Close Encounters of the Bird Kind. Updated 28/05/2014 "Courting Cuckoos"

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    Default Re: Blurring the background.

    I use the blur tool in photoshop. I use a larger brush for the main background, then a small brush and zoom right in for those tricky spots around the subject. It can take a while, but the result I feel mare worth the effort.

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