Selective Focus in
Almost every decent photographer knows that opening the lens wide
open produces selective focus (narrow depth of field) - especially with
long focal length lenses. Sometimes, however, when shooting in bright
light we either forget to do this or choose not to. In any case all is
not lost. There is a way in Photoshop where we can duplicate this
effect. For example, say you want your subject to be in focus but the
background slowly receding out of focus. Well we can do this by
producing our own tool. I will call it a Selective Focus Gradient
Tool - because that is exactly what it is. I suggest you print this
out before you start. These instructions are written for Photoshop 6 but
can be modified for other versions.
1- Select your image. Then Window, open
2- Using the small arrow in the upper right hand corner of the
Layer Menu Box click on Duplicate Layer.
3- Blur this Duplicate Layer using Gaussian Blur (Filter, Blur,
Gaussian Blur). Choose the amount of blur by previewing the maximum
blur you want for your out of focus area.
3- With the blurred layer still selected, go to the Layer Menu Box,
then add Layer Mask (itís the second symbol on the bottom of
the Layer Menu Box. Your selected layer (blurred layer) in the Layer
Menu Box will now show a thumbnail blurred image followed by a
thumbnail of a white box (the layer mask).
4- At the bottom of the Tool Menu make the
black, and the background color white. It is probably the opposite
5- Now find the Gradient Tool on the Tool
it on and use the selection box at the top of the page. You
want to go from foreground to transparent. In PS 6 be sure to check
the small box on the extreme upper right corner that says "transparency".
6- Select a circular, vertical, or horizontal gradient. Now (with the
blurred layer still selected) click and hold on the area you want sharp.
Drag into the area you want blurry. Release the mouse. Practice until
you get the effect you want (Edit, Undo). Circular gradient blurs
everything in a receding circle.
This is a wonderful technique that has many applications in addition
to its use as a Selective Focus Gradient Tool.