Making Over Your Foreground Focus (continued)

W Choose FilteroBluro Gaussian Blur.

The Gaussian Blur dialog box makes an appearance.

Gaussian blurs are great for softening the image and creating a slightly out-of-focus look, which is exactly what we want here.

e Press 36/Ctrl+H to hide the selection edge.

The idea here is that you want to see clearly how the blur affects the image and the feathered edge.

r In the Gaussian Blur dialog box, type 5 in the Radius field, and then click OK to apply the blur.

A radius of 5 is a good choice here because it softens the image enough to decrease its emphasis but not so much that it creates a distraction. But feel free to use another value if you prefer.

Taz's Take: You can experiment with various combinations of feathering and blurring your selection to get a wide range of results. With the settings used here, the blur looks pretty good on the far background but it's a bit extreme in the near foreground. Not to worry. We planned ahead by creating two layers — Blur and No Blur — to mitigate this over-the-top blurring in the foreground.

t Press 3€/Ctrl+D to deselect the selection.

You're faced with a top layer with a blurred background and a bottom layer with no blurring. The trick now is to blend those two layers so they look natural together.

y With the top Blur layer selected, click the Add Layer Mask icon located at the bottom of the Layers palette.

A white layer mask appears next to the Blur thumbnail in the Layers palette.

We're going to use the layer mask to blend the Blur layer from foreground to background with the underlying No Blur layer, to create a more realistic progressive increase in out-of-focus appearance as the eye travels into the background.

U Click to select this layer mask, and then select the Gradient tool from the Toolbox.

The idea here is to use a gradient to gradually increase the blur as the image progresses into the background. Pure white in the layer mask will apply 100% of the Blur layer. Pure black will allow 0% of the Blur layer or 100% of the No Blur layer.

i In the Gradient tool's Options bar, choose the White to Black gradient from the Gradient Picker.

White to Black is the default gradient, so this one is a no-brainer.

Note You can also create your own custom gradient if you prefer.

O With the layer mask selected, drag the White to Black gradient downward, from the middle of the image down to the top of the lower-left bloom.

Doing so causes a gradient to appear across the layer mask.

You'll notice that the blur grades from a maximum in the far background to a minimum right next to the lower-left bloom. Guess what? You've just blended the two images together. Now all you have to do is improve the contrast a bit by darkening the background.

Taz's Take You can experiment not only with various kinds of gradients, but also



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