Image Blur Effects in Photoshop, Lightroom & Adobe Camera Raw (VIDEO)

One powerful method for accentuating the key subject in an image is to blur iother areas within the frame, and today's tutorial from Lori Lankford provides a trio of techniques for getting the job quickly and precisely in Photoshop, Lightroom, and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR).

Lankford is a professional nature photographer and post-processing expert, and the methods she demonstrates today work equally well for just about any images you shoot outdoors—whether they're landscapes, macro shots, wildlife photos, or environmental portraits. The methods she demonstrates function the same with any Adobe software you use.

Many photographers think that the benefit of these tools is limited to softening a busy background. But as you'll learn in this eye-opening lesson, you can also employ blur selectively to make a single element stand out. One example is when you're photographing a cluster of flowers and you want to limit focus to a specific bloom.

Lankford's sample image is a pretty shot of tulips in a field and she spends more time on the first method she describes (the other two fly by quickly). Her goal for the initial technique is to deemphasize four blooms that surround a single tulip in the center of her shot. The process begins by duplicating the background.

Next she selects the Camera Raw filter, which is just like working in Lightroom. She then applies a few basic adjustments to exposure, color, highlights, and shadows. Now it's time to see how Lankford employs the new Lens blur tool to soften the tulips in the periphery of the frame and add details to the flower in the center of the grouping.

Once she clicks "Apply" and the effect is applied she reveals an interesting trick that enables you refine the image further by "pumping up" the blur, saying "I like to take it pretty high." As you'll see, there are other options for enhancing bokeh. You'll also learn how to use the Depth Map to identify the specific area of focus.

The other two methods you'll learn are even easier, and they deliver really nice results in different ways. So pay close attention, examine Lankford's before/after images, and then add these straightforward techniques to your image-editing workflow. Your images will have greater impact as a result.

Be sure to check out Lankford's instructional YouTube channel where you'll find more helpful tips on improving your landscape and nature photographs.

We also recommend watching a related tutorial we posted earlier with what another software expert says is the best way to remove dust spots and other ugly artifacts from photographs with a simple Lightroom technique.