I must admit, I haven’t done a whole lot this week! I’ve been working on taxes. Ugh. My Mom arrives for a weeklong visit this morning, so I’m trying to finish it all up and remove these various piles of documents I have sitting around the house. My eyes have gone blurry, even if my photographs haven’t…
I did get a chance to play a little bit with adding background blur in post-processing apps this week. There are quite a few apps out there that add bokeh or blur effects. I have to admit, I’ve always thought adding bokeh blur after the fact to simulate depth of field can be kind of creepy. My eye has been trained to know what real depth of field should look like, and often the post-processed effects don’t match up with reality. Do you find the same?
With the depth of field limitations of the iPhone camera though, it’s nice to understand where I might be able to affect things, so I played around with the Bokeh Lens app, which I had downloaded free a couple of weeks ago. After trying it on a few images, I realized that in order to add this kind of blur in post-processing you need a situation where the distinction of sharp vs blurry would be obvious even in camera. A single object significantly in front of a distant background would work the best.
Enter this image, from a hike last Sunday. I love the “eyes” of the tree but realized my focus was off, with the sharpest thing being the tree behind the face tree. It’s a reminder that while the iPhone camera does not allow for a lot of depth of field, it does have SOME and you still need to get the focus in the right spot. In addition to focus, the contrast and relative isolation of that second tree kept pulling my eyes away from what I wanted as the focal point tree, the one in front.
Next step, blur the background in the Bokeh Lens app. The way this app works, you set the amount of blur you want, and the whole image is blurred that amount. You then mask off the area you want sharp, so I painted the mask on the foreground tree with the face. Not bad so far, huh?
After using any new app, I check the resolution using PhotoSize, to see if it saves full resolution files. You can’t tell just be looking at an iPhone or iPad screen whether it’s a high resolution image or not. Unfortunately, this app does not save full resolution or even medium resolution. It’s very low resolution, with no settings to change it. To get a decent resolution file for later use, I needed to blend the blurred image back with the original image to get an image. Blending the blurred image back with the original image gave some dreamy effects in the background, which I liked. I find the dreamlike quality of the background adds to the feeling of the forest watching you provided by the face in the tree. With a bit of color editing to add to the dreamy feel, here’s the final result:
After doing all of this, I realized I could have saved myself a lot of this work if I had used my dSLR with a shallow depth of field to take the photograph. 🙂 But the end result, with that dream-like background, would have never have happened with shallow depth of field alone, so it turns out well I went through the processing. Not only that, I learned about when to apply bokeh blur and when not to, as well as learning I need to find a full resolution blur app! BlurFX is looking pretty good to me right now…
How about you? What post-processed Artistic Blur is working for you? Share it with us, by linking in below.