Photoshop 6 – Field Blur with Bokeh Effect Filter Test


The folks at Adobe have been busy putting the finishing touches on their latest Creative Suite release. Photoshop is moving to CS6 and with that comes a rafter of new features. One of this is related to “controllable” blur effects.

In the past the blur was indiscriminate in that it was not feathered to simulate the way in which a lens moves from unsharp to sharp and then back to unsharp as you eyes searches out the focal point of the image.

Original Image

Original Image

In this image taken with a 10mm Nikkor 1 prime lens for the Nikon 1 V1 you can see that there is a generous amount of depth of field. In 35mm terms this lens is a moderate wide-angle probably equivalent to a 27mm for that format.

The first step in the processing is to adjust the exposure, tonal range and noise reduction in Lightroom 4. This image like all the ones I take are usually in NEF format. NEF is a proprietary version of the RAW format. During the import of my images they are converted into DNG format which though proprietary is the “open source” variant used by Adobe.

For those of you who are interested in arcane information the NEF format contains additional information about the Active D-Lighting settings used in your camera during exposure. This information is used by products like Nikon Capture NX2 to control the contrast range of the image being rendered.

Today however with the advent of Adobe Camera RAW 7.1 you really don’t have to rely on proprietary data like that available in Nikon NEF files. You can literally “pull out” shadow detail in DNG files that are nearly as wide in dynamic range as HDR images! And you can do all of this with a single exposure rather than two or more.

Field Blur Added

Field Blur and Bokeh Filter Applied

Adobe now offers at least three blur filter variants. These are:

  • Field Blur
  • Iris Blur
  • Tilt-Shift Blur

The idea is to allow you apply one or more of these filters in one or more places on your image to “build up” an image made with what appears to be a lens with shallower depth-of-field and a healthy dose of “bokeh“.

As you can see by using a shallow depth-of-field you can cause the viewers eye to focus on that specific area of interest in your image that you desire. It can of course be used to excess but it is nice to know that you can (by means of relatively inexpensive software) give an occasional image exactly what you might have gotten with a very expensive lens.

And because you can apply this all after exposure it gives you the freedom to apply it to images made with any lens in your arsenal. Normally a 27mm lens for a 35mm camera would never be able to render an image with this shallow a depth of field at this focal distance. It could produce a similar effect if used inches away from a much smaller subject.

A Short Video

Julieanne Kost is the Senior Digital Imaging Evangelist for Adobe. If you have the time and the interest you can watch her describe how these blur filters can be applied. It is a well done video so even if you are not quite ready to plunge into this area of post processing it might still be a way of piquing your interest for a time in future when you might just decide to head in this direction.