One of the newest and coolest ways to selectively blur parts of an image is to use the Iris Blur filter in Photoshop CS6. When using this filter, you can control the placement of the effect and the degree of the effect using anchor points and the circular slider in the center of the control area. This filter does a great job in simulating shooting at a wide aperture with a telephoto lens. If you don't have Photoshop CS6, other software options for blurring the background include Alien Skin's Bokeh, onOne Software's FocalPoint 2 and Topaz Lens Effects from Topaz Labs.
Here's my original image. My first step actually was to clone out the distracting branch on the left side of the frame. My final step was to use the Dodge tool in Photoshop to whiten the cowgirl's eyes ever so slightly. That's a technique many fashion magazine art directors use to draw your attention to the model. Try it; you'll like it.
I hope these quick tips inspire you to add a touch of artistry to your portraits. See you here next time.
Our friend Rick Sammon has been writing this column for more than 10 years. He took these images during his recent Black Hills Photo Shootout workshop. Visit with Rick at www.ricksammon.info to learn more about his workshops.