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Fixing a Problem Photo... blurring the background, yet keeping the grain.

You can remove distracting detail from an image or focus attention on the subject by isolating the subject and keeping it in focus as you blur other parts of the picture. The Photoshop technique presented in this tip imitates the effect you get with a shortened depth of field, traditionally achieved by opening up the camera's iris (setting the f-stop low). The blurring can be limited to the background, or, as shown here, the sharp subject can be sandwiched between blurred background and blurred foreground. In either case, you'll need to make the blurred areas match the sharp ones by restoring the film grain or digital noise (the equivalent of film grain in an image captured with a digital camera) that was lost in the process of blurring.

Defining the Foreground
If you want to keep a foreground subject in focus while blurring only the background, it's a good idea to make sure the foreground subject bleeds off the bottom of the picture, even if it means cropping the image. Otherwise, if the subject is standing on the ground, it can be very tricky to make the transition from the in-focus ground at the feet of the subject to the out-of-focus background.

The Photoshop 6 Wow! Book
by Linnea Dayton and Jack Davis

Effective whether you're a Photoshop pro or a demanding amateur, The Photoshop 6 Wow! Book contains the widest selection of useful projects, tips, tutorials, techniques, and examples of professionally produced work you're likely to find in one place. Along with the staples - framing with masks, fixing problem photos, quick masking and blending, filters, and so on - you'll find gems like focusing attention with color, blurring backgrounds while retaining grain, hand-tinting black and white photos, applying images to textured surfaces, and painting with the art history brush.

The book focuses strongly on new Photoshop 6 features such as layer styles, vector shapes, and fill layers as well as improved text handling. Screen shots, before and after examples, and galleries of professionally produced work in full color throughout make this an easy book to dip into as well as a good foundation for a structured course.

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