Thursday, May 01, 2014

PhotoProject :: Blurring the Edges II

When I made the suggestion to +roz to try the idea of blurring the edges to tame strong lines on her wonderful photo, I realised that I wasn’t very specific about how to do it. So that prompted me to put together this little video to explain how edge blurs can be achieved in a number of common photo software editing/management software, because after looking around I found it is not obvious or even implemented in many popular post processing software, presets, add-ins and filters. That never stopped me in the past so here are a few ways to achieve blurred vignettes in the software you may already have. Please bear in mind this is my first attempt at a how to video and the sound quality particularly is poor and all over the place (plenty of room for improvement). Anyway I hope the video helps inspire some experiments in your own work. But be warned its a bit long (13 minutes)

If video isn’t your thing here are some very brief descriptions of various alternative. I start with a few “free” programs and apps you may already have.

Google+ Photo

I firstly played around in the edit tools within Google+ Photo, since The Patch is a Google+ community and everyone will have access to these tools. The Centre Focus panel does provide nice blur panel & control, which seems to add a radial Gaussian blur and the edge brightness slider works like a conventional vignette allowing you to darken or lighten the edges at the same time. Its really simple to use, once you find it.
For those lucky enough to have new android phones and have recently updated the default Google Camera app (and have gotten pass the PhotoSphere feature) there is a similar feature called lens blur that can be adjusted on your photo on your phone.

Picasa

Picasa is Google’s desktop photo manager, which has become Google+ Photos on the web application component. But many of the Snapseed features that have been added into Google+ Photos have not been migrated back to upgrade Picasa itself. The Desktop version does have a very similar filter called soft focus, again using a circular inner zone and allowing control on size of this shape and the amount of focus
Picasa also has an interesting Focal B&W filter. What it does is maintain the colour inside a circular shape and destaturate anything outside that to black and white. There are only two controls the circle size (I've moved it fully to the right) and the sharpness (which is like feathering) and I’ve moved that fully to the left. The shadow lines are still sharp but the desaturation has tamed them.

Paint.NET

This is a free program to download (you can donate to its upkeep) and it is a very handy little program. It has even has layers (not used in this example) and the variety of tools to select areas within your image and a number of blur tools. The method is again simple I just used the elliptical select on the tool bar and select my area of interest. Next I chose inverted selection from the edit menu. then on the effects menu under blurs I chose the zoom blur (my favoured blur for this situation). Gaussain Blur would work just as well. Paint.net does not have feathering in the selection control so it may be necessary to do a second selection and blur less to help blend the blur.
Google+ Centre Focus  Picasa Focal B&W  Paint.NET Gausian Blur

lightroom adjustment brush settingsLightroom

Lightroom actually does not have a specific blur tool, but I have found if you use the adjustment brush which has its own panel of settings. If you take sharpness down to a large negative number, move it to the left, it does introduce a subtle softness (not a full blur) which you can further emphasis by moving down contrast, clarity and/or saturations
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