Monday, December 31, 2007

Simulating In-Camera Effects

With a digital SLR, and even with many compact cameras, you can manually select the shutter speed and ƒ-stop for powerful creative control. Fast shutter speeds (1?500 sec. and higher) freeze most action, and slow shutter speeds (1?30 sec. and slower) blur action. Wide apertures (ƒ/4.5 and wider) can be selected for shallow depth of field, and small apertures (ƒ/8 and smaller) can be used for greater depth of field.
By Rick Sammon Published in Quick Fix

quick fixStep Five Reducing the Opacity smooths the transition from the sharp subject to the blurred background, creating a realistic-looking image, as you can see in this screen grab.

quick fixStep Six Let's move on to changing the ƒ-stop. Like the opening image for this lesson, I blurred the background here, resulting in this final image of a little girl in Panama.

quick fixStep Seven Here, however, I used the Gaussian Blur filter (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) because I wanted a softer, more out-of-focus background. It's a subtle enhancement, but the blurring hid some of the white highlights in the top right of the background. Blurring the background also drew more attention to the subject.

For this blurring technique, you can follow the same steps as I described above when using the Motion Blur filter: duplicate the layer, blur the top layer (only with the Gaussian Blur filter), add a Layer Mask and paint out the blur over the subject. Remember to reduce the Opacity as you paint outward from the center of the subject.

quick fixStep Eight Here's my original photo of the little girl. Again, my enhancement was subtle, but sometimes in photography, subtle changes are just what a picture needs to turn it into a perfect shot.


quick fixRick Sammon has published 27 books; his latest include Idea to Image, Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Digital Photography 2.0, Rick Sammon's Travel and Nature Photography, and Rick Sammon's Digital Imaging Workshops. He has produced a DVD for Photoshop Elements users, 3-Minute Digital Makeover, and three DVDs for Photoshop CS users, Awaken the Artist Within, Close Encounters with Camera Raw and Photoshop CS2 for the Outdoor and Travel Photographer. Visit for more information.

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