Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Better Background

In photography, the background can make or break a shot.
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

Blurring the background is another technique to make the subject stand out. I did that to create this image of a Huli Wigman who I photographed in Papua New Guinea.

As with darkening the background, using the Blur tool to soften the background probably would result in a background that looks unevenly blurred and, worse yet, fake. For an evenly blurred background, one option is to use the Gaussian Blur filter as a Smart Filter. Here's the quick fix.

Open your Layers panel. Go to Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. When you click OK, you'll see a tiny icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your original layer (circled in red here). It's only after you select a filter, Gaussian Blur, in this case, that you'll see what looks like a layer mask under that layer.

Again, that mask is originally filled with white (shown here), as with an Adjustment Layer. As before, select black as the foreground color, select a soft brush and paint over the main subject, the man, in this example. The result is that the man is sharp and the background is evenly blurred.


Here's my original photograph of the Huli Wigman. As you can see, my final image is a bit cropped. I cropped the image to draw more attention to the main subject and to eliminate the distracting elements at the top of the frame—two good reasons to crop.

Well, that's it for this quick fix, or two quick fixes, in this case. I hope to see you back here in the next issue.

Rick Sammon is a longtime friend of and writer for this magazine. Get to know him better at www.ricksammon.info.

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