260 part V:The part of Tens

4. Blur the image.

Move the Radius slider to the left until the image and the preview displays the amount of blur you want. For this example, I'm settling for a Radius value of 21.5.

5. Create a Layer Mask.

Create a Layer Mask by clicking the Create Layer Mask button located at the bottom of the Layer palette (shown in Figure 13-8).

You can also create a Layer Mask by choosing LayerOLayer MaskO Reveal All (or Hide All). The Reveal All option will create the mask, revealing the blur you applied in Step 4; the Hide All selection will hide the blur effect you've added.

6. Paint in the blur (see Figure 13-10).

In this step, click the Paintbrush tool in the Toolbox to paint in the effect of revealing the sharp areas of your image that you've decided to reveal. The rest of the image will remain blurred.

Figure 13-10: Painting the sharp areas back into the image.

If your Paintbrush tool isn't revealing any sharp areas, click the Switch Foreground and Background Colors button on the Toolbox, or type X. Doing so changes the foreground color to black in this case, revealing the blurred areas of the image.

Figure 13-11 shows the original image, next to the image with selective blurring applied.

Original image Selective blurring

Figure 13-11: Comparing the original with the selectively blurred image.

Creating Abstracts with Extreme Cropping

In the course of writing books on digital photography and discussing techniques (some of which are pretty abstract themselves) with other photographers, I've come to the conclusion that none of us can come up with a good definition for what a photographic abstract is. To me, an abstract is a representation of an object — possibly distorted — that doesn't represent what exactly an object actually is. (Ack. See what I mean?) It's a visual description that doesn't make sense. Fortunately, that's the point: Abstracts aren't supposed to make sense!

I often like to shoot subjects that don't quite look like anything you'll normally see in the everyday world. If you view a photo and can't quite Figure 13-12: Abstract of lights. tell what you're looking at (as in

Figure 13-12), then I guess that's an abstract. (Okay, it's holiday lights shot at night with a slow shutter speed while moving the camera. That's how it was done, but what is it? Good question. Take an aspirin.)

One technique I like to use involves some extreme cropping of macro (extreme close-up) shots. If you haven't noticed by now, I shoot photos of flowers

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