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How to focus on your subject, blur the rest

Today, you’ll learn how to use the Blur effect to blur a portion of your photos and create a focal point.

1. Open a photo

In Photoshop, go to File > Open… and select a photo from your computer. Click Open.

2. Open the Blur Gallery

Go to Filter > Blur Gallery and select Iris Blur from the Blur Gallery options. Define a focal point in the image while bluring the rest of the photo.

3. Define a focal point

When Iris Blur opens, you’ll see a large blur preview ring and several dots in the image. In the middle of the ring is a “pin.” The pin is like a target: At the center of the target, the image is sharp and clear; further away from the target, the image increases in blurriness. Click the center of the pin and drag it to the figure. Release your mouse to place the pin.

4. Adjust the blur area

The outer ring of the blur preview defines the point at which the blur effect reaches 100%. Everything outside of the ring has a maximum blur effect applied. Along the outer ring of the blur preview are four small dots. Hover your mouse over one of the small dots until your cursor changes to a curved double-ended arrow. For the sample photo, click and drag to elongate the blur preview ellipse, and rotate it slightly counter-clockwise. To resize the blur area while constraining the shape, click and drag the line on the blur preview ring.

5. Adjust the blur transition

Inside the blur preview ring, see the four larger white dots, which define the blur transition area. Between these larger white dots and the blur preview (outer ring), the blur effect goes from 0% blur to 100% blur.

Click and drag the white dots to adjust the size of the blur transition area. Move the dots closer to the focal point to make the blur transition smoother, or, move the dots away from the focal point to make the blur transition sharper.

For the sample photo, move the large white dots slightly closer to the figure to make the blur transiton smoother.

6. Adjust the blur amount

You can adjust the blur dial, which is around the pin at the center of the blur preview area, to control the amount of blur applied. Click and drag the blur dial clockwise to increase the blur, or, drag the blur dial counterclockwise to reduce the blur. For the sample, apply a blur of 8. You can also adust the blur by using the Blur slider in the Blur Tools panel to the right of your workspace.

Done! When you’re finished, press Enter or click OK at the top of the Blur Gallery window. Applying the Iris Blur effect is a creative way to make the subject of your photo stand out, and give a unique look to the image.

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