Quickly Add Fabulous Depth of Field to Your Image Using Photoshop

Sometimes as you sit down to edit an image, it comes across flatter than you'd like it to be and you wish you'd gotten just a bit more depth of field. If you didn't capture that blur in camera, all is not lost. 

Colin Smith at PhotoshopCAFE quickly breaks down an easy way to create that depth effect in Photoshop. Using Photoshop CC 2019 makes this easier than ever using quick selections and content aware fill. You can easily select your subject and cut it out, allowing you use the field blur tool to create a smooth, gradual blur to the background without losing any sharpness in your subject. 

The key to creating a believable depth of field is make the blur increase gradually, and Smith shows how easily that is accomplished in Photoshop.

Obviously, it's always preferable to capture that depth of field in camera. You don't even necessarily need a super fast f/1.2 lens to accomplish it (though the gear heads among us would love to have it!). But we all know that sometimes we either can't create the depth of field we want, or just miss it, so this is a nice way to make your image pop if you didn't quite get the capture you were hoping for. 

Have you ever tried to add background blur in post-processing? What technique did you use? Drop a comment below and tell us your tips for creating a believable background blur. 

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13 Comments

Scott Hussey's picture

So, we're "adding" depth of field by blurring the background?

Somebody might need to go look up the definition of "depth of field."

I can't believe that someone that does not understand this basic concept is allowed to post an article in a photo website. Are there no editors that review it beforehand and go: "whoa buddy, you got it all backwards"?

Daniel Medley's picture

I think the notion of DOF is a bit lost here. DOF is a concept, like distance or temperature. What is the DOF? What is the distance? What's the temperature?

What they're after is to emulate a SHALLOW DOF via post production to add a sort of dimensional quality to an image; not a bad thing.

Brian Pernicone's picture

Mea culpa. This is stated more clearly than I what wrote. The technique adds depth to an otherwise flat image. I should have been clearer.

Clumsy writing aside, it's a pretty good tutorial.

Daniel Medley's picture

It's a very good tutorial. Thanks for sharing it.

marc gabor's picture

More clumsy writing even in the comments section. I understand not why you write article about photography. Learn to proof read before you post. Do the staff at fstoppers even read the articles that are submitted to them?

Adriano Brigante's picture

Wow, this is embarrassing.

Ivan Lantsov's picture

he not know basics is bad, very very bad

marc gabor's picture

fstoppers should just take down this post before anyone else reads it / comments

Shout out to Dan for not being a total asshole lol I get it. It’s not the most flattering of videos or articles on here and after watching just a snippet I had to scroll through the comments. Some of you act like this is the only article that will come out this week. Fstoppers constantly has articles and if there is a beginner that finds this article they will be thrilled. So can we stop acting like we are head board members of Fstoppers and just let who enjoys this enjoy it?

Wow, my bad I should have said create a "shallow" depth of field. My bad for neglecting to say one word. If you watch the video its pretty obvious what I mean. (And yes, I do understand focal planes). 5,000 people have found it useful so far on youtube with 300 likes. I will be much more careful with my wording in the future. Because I poorly worded the intro doesn't mean the tutorial isn't good or useful to the intended audience, who struggle with halos around Photoshop's field blur :)

Brian Pernicone's picture

Tough crowd 'round these parts, Colin. :)