How To Automatically Blur Backgrounds in Adobe Photoshop With Neural Filters

If you're somebody who hates heavy-handed post-production, you might want to keep scrolling. For those of you who are happy to do whatever they can to get the image they want, here is an example of Adobe Photoshop's new beta Neural Filters in which the background of an image can be blurred.

In all honesty, I'm entirely worn out with the discussion of post-production of images. Some people claim that photography is a purists' profession and retouching should be minimal, some claim it's an art form where nothing is off-limits. The first cite competitions and pre-digital photography, the latter give examples of extreme editing in darkrooms for the last century or more. As far as I am concerned, there is no right answer, but if post-production interests you, Photoshop's Neural Filters will too.

We have seen the sharp ascent of AI depth of field in images, championed by mobile phone photography. With attractive bokeh as a physical consequence of aperture, focal length, and sensor size being currently all but impossible, post-processing had to fill the void. When my friend first took a picture of his family with his phone and used this background blurring AI, he showed me and I wanted to slap the phone from his hands. It could seldom be more obvious to anyone with even a passing interest in photography, but he was happy and that can't be a bad thing.

However, in the intervening decade or so, the quality of this algorithmic editing has improved tenfold, to the point where it now requires some attention to correctly identify fake depth of field. Photoshop's Neural Filters have an option to do this, and as Aaron Nace of PHLEARN shows in this video, it's mighty impressive, and with some intelligent tweaking, they can be almost indistinguishable.

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5 Comments

Jan Holler's picture

Not bad! But honestly, I would choose a larger aperture or take several shots with different apertures. That's the much faster way to do it. And that was just one picture.

J.d. Davis's picture

Learning to use the right lens for the shot would be a better idea...and with the plethora of cheap zooms this should be the easiest solution.

Seems that "Getting it right 'In Camera'" is a major stumbling block for so many!

Scott Valentine's picture

"Get it right in camera" is great when you're the photographer and you know what you want before you hit the shutter release. For those of us working with art directors, stock images, other photographers, or who can't always see into the future, there's Photoshop.

J.d. Davis's picture

Photographer to art director:
You want the background sharp or blurry?

Art director to photographer: Blurry

Not sure why you would be using 'stock' or working with anyone else...unless you were the assistant?

Andrew H's picture

This is very useful for designers, probably moreso than for photographers. If it actually works well it will save me a lot of time editing backgrounds to place copy, etc