8 Replies Latest reply on Aug 29, 2012 3:54 PM by Mike Ornellas

    Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur

    Noel Carboni Level 8

      Have you ever wanted to make a photo seem to have shorter depth of field?  Prior to Photoshop CS6 this was no small feat to achieve digitally and end up with a pleasing and visually believable result.

       

      Photographers know that setting the aperture wide can change the mood of a shot completely.  Sometimes getting the DOF just right can make the difference between an "also ran snapshot" and an award winning photograph.

       

      With today's smaller digital sensors - and even with big sensors if too small an aperture is available - sometimes we get an image that's exposed right, that's composed well, that's caught the moment...  But...  More of it is sharp than we'd like, and the background or foreground is simply distracting.

       

      Enter the new Photoshop CS6 blur filters.

       

      With the Tilt-Shift variant, one can progressively blur pixels based on a definable gradient/mask, so that we get that familiar progressive front-to-back blur change.

       

      Armed with this powerful new capability, and with the subject masking/separation facilities we've had for a couple of versions now, this becomes possible:

       

      1.  Separate subject from surroundings with a good mask - e.g., quick select, refine edge, make a new layer with just the parts you want to remain sharp showing on it.  A good mask isn't difficult to make any more!  Hide this layer when done.

       

      2. Remove the subject, at least around the edges, from the background layer underneath, e.g., by selecting using the above mask, expanding the selection, and doing Content Aware Fill and/or Cloning.  This is important because in the subsequent blur operation we don't want parts of the sharp subject blurring into the background.  That just looks weird.

       

      3. Use Photoshop CS6's Tilt-Shift Blur to visually shorten the DOF in the background layer, with the center point and unblurred region set to coincide with the position of the subject in the shot.  Adjust the settings to taste, which isn't as much of a crap shoot any more since the blurs actually update in real time on screen.

       

      4.  Make the layer above visible, maybe do some things with the lighting (which is fairly easy, now that subject is separated from the background), and voila, a whole new feel to the photo.

       

      Consider this example...

       

      Before:

      PensivePrimateDeepField.jpg

       

       

       

      After:

      PensivePrimate.jpg

       

      Almost as good as a new $10,000 lens!

       

       

      -Noel

        • 1. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
          conroy Level 5

          Excellent write-up and example, Noel.

           

          The trio of new blur filters also allow saving the generated "Blur Mask" (depth map) as a channel which the Lens Blur filter can use (or the user could use the channel for any purpose). That allows other creativity both by painting onto (or otherwise modifying) that depth map and by using the controls in Lens Blur.

           

          It seems odd that we can't attach Lens Blur or the new blurs as a Smart Filter. I know they can take several seconds to compute the final result, but there must be more to it than that. Any idea why we can't use them as Smart Filters?

          • 2. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
            Noel Carboni Level 8

            Thanks.

             

            Any idea why we can't use them as Smart Filters?

             

            No idea, other than the possibility that the Adobe people struggled so hard to get all the new functionality done in time for release that they didn't have time to think about the finer points of integrating the new designs into the existing features.  It's not the only instance of this kind of omission.

             

            Noting that this new concept of the blur functions acting more like a new "mode" of Photoshop than a filter plug-in...  The workspace changes, but instead of popping up a whole new UI, we just stay right in Photoshop.  You and I might agree that such an implementation change should have been designed to work smoothly together with all the existing facilities, but I get the distinct impression that Adobe doesn't feel that level of compatibility in every new design is as important as we do, and may simply have not thought all the implications through - incredible as that may sound.

             

            Some new stuff doesn't work with actions, other stuff doesn't work with smart filters, still other stuff works differently when accelerated vs. non-accelerated...  One could be forgiven for getting the impression that the Adobe team was just barely capable of delivering the features they have here, vs., delivering a well-designed, completely integrated, well-tested solution.  Part of that is that it's 13.0, but I think part of it must have to do with them being tasked to do too many things with the funding they have.

             

            -Noel

            • 3. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
              conroy Level 5

              You and I share a very similar view.

               

              The reason for my suspecting the possibility of the situation being more complex than a lack of man-hours in preparing CS6 for release is that Lens Blur is not new but remains unavailable as Smart Filter.

              • 4. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
                Noel Carboni Level 8

                I do know this:  A filter plug-in need not do much of anything special beyond implementing the Filter Plug-in interface properly to be capable of being a Smart Filter.  It need only specify the following line in its resource definition file:

                 

                FilterLayerSupport {doesSupportFilterLayers}, // Enable use with SmartFilters

                 

                 

                This makes me think those plug-ins / filters / whatever that don't offer the capability have been disabled on purpose.

                 

                -Noel

                • 5. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
                  conroy Level 5

                  Perhaps Chris will shed a little light.

                  • 6. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
                    Level 7

                    >> other than the possibility that the Adobe people struggled so hard to get all the new functionality done in time for release that they didn't have time to think about the finer points of integrating the new designs into the existing features.

                     

                    Um, yeah, that.  They ran out of time.

                    • 7. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
                      Noel Carboni Level 8

                      I'm sorry to be a bit harsh, Chris, but I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

                       

                      -Noel

                      • 8. Re: Unsung New Feature:  Tilt-Shift Blur
                        Mike Ornellas Level 3

                        This is not the first and not the last time sets of features remain visually there but don't function.  Photoshop 6 is a good example, but then again, it was a ground up build.

                         

                        Don't know why they just don't remove said non-functional menus and features. Maybe cuz removing them will break more things then help lessen the confusion of grayed out features.

                         

                        Problem is that it only leads to customer speculation and criticisms about the product.