Step 4: Blur Background Layer

■ Click the Background layer in the Layers palette to make it the active layer. Click the eye icon in the Owl layer to turn that layer off.

■ Choose Filter >- Blur >- Gaussian Blur to get the dialog box shown in Figure 11.9.Click inside the preview box in the Gaussian Blur dialog box

Gaussian Blur

■J

t OK i Cancel

I.-! Preview

hJ iook L+l

Radius: 2.5| pixels

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and drag the image until you can see the owl's left ear.

■ Slide the Radius slider all the way to the left and then move it as far as you can move it toward the right until the noise just begins to disappear. At 1 and 2 Pixels, the dots of noise become blotches; at 2.5 Pixels it is a nice soft blur as we would find if the photo were taken using an ISO 100 setting; but it is not too different from the rest of the image. Notice how much of the detail is lost in the feathers in the owl's ear even at a 2.5 pixels setting.

■ Click OK to apply the Gaussian Blur.

The reason that I have chosen the Gaussian Blur filter is because of the very fine control it allows. Unlike some of the other filters, it allows you to work in tenths of a pixel. Also, you may have noticed that the 2.5 Pixels setting was considerably short of making the background as smooth as the backgrounds in photos taken using an ISO 100 setting. The reason for this conservative setting is that too much of a smooth background would look inconsistent with the part of the image that features an owl.

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