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How to Blur Background in Photoshop Elements

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 3/22/2011

Want to know how to blur background in Photoshop Elements? Well, you're in luck! This Adobe Photoshop Elements tutorial provides you with step-by-step instructions on how to blur your image background.

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    Why Blur Your Backgrounds?

    Adobe Photoshop Elements allows you to perform many of the same photo editing techniques as Adobe Photoshop at a much cheaper rate. Generally, Elements costs about $100 as opposed to over $500 for Adobe Photoshop. You can also blur background in Photoshop Elements, which may be necessary depending on your depth of field.

    One of the major issues with digital photography is the depth of field. Because of the sensors in digital cameras, everything, including background objects, is nearly always in focus. While you may want this for certain types of images like landscape or close-up photography, you nearly never want your background in focus for shots of people, especially portraits.

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    Using the Blur Tool

    You can use Photoshop Elements to blur your background so that your foreground images are the focus on the image. There are two ways to perform this trick in Photoshop Elements. How you do so depends on whether you want your background as a separate layer.

    If you just want to blur the background of your image without making it a separate layer, follow the below procedures:

    Photoshop 

    1. Click on the Blur tool, which is the tool that looks like a drop of water.

    2. Pick the options that you want to use for this tool.

    3. Drag your mouse over the background.

    This is the easiest way to blur your background. The most difficult part of using this tool is setting your options. When you select the tool, a pop-up menu will appear with five options. The Size option allows you to pick the brush size that you want to use, and the Strength indicates the strength of the blurring effect. Use the Sample All Layers option if you want to blur all visible layers. The Mode tells the tool how much you want to blend your pixels, and the Brushes menu allows you to pick a brush tip.

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    Creating a Separate Background Layer

    If you want to separate your background from your foreground image, follow these steps:

    1. Separate your background from your foreground by making a background copy layer.

    2. Select the Selection Brush tool and set the tool options to Hard Edge.

    3. Hold and drag your mouse around your background. If you select too much of your image, use the Subtract option to remove some of the selection. Always zoom into the image for a better view of what you are selecting.

    4. If you do not want a hard delineation between the blurred background and your foreground image, click on Select and then Feather to soften the edges.

    5. Go into the Filter menu and select Gaussian Blur. Set the Radius to anything that you want, but five pixels is usually a good blur radius.

    6. Click OK.

    Now your image background is lightly blurred.

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    References

    Lasse Havelund, http://www.flickr.com/photos/menza/323144713/sizes/z/in/photostream/

    Adobe, http://help.adobe.com/en_US/PhotoshopElements/8.0/Win/Using/WSae2ea3b149d0c3591ae939f103860b3d59-7ed5_WIN.html

    PhotoKaboom.com, http://www.photokaboom.com/photography/learn/Photoshop_Elements/dof/1_blur_background.htm