One-click Depth of Field in Photoshop CS6

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Adobe has been teasing us for months now with videos of new features in the upcoming Photoshop CS6. Some of the new stuff has been practical and geared toward productivity, for example, migrating presets form one version to another. Others have been pretty jaw-dropping, such as new content-aware features that let you reposition elements seamlessly.

This next sneak peek, the sixth, falls in the latter category. It's pretty darn neat and it make me wonder what, if anything, is being done in camera rather than in Photoshop.

Manipulating depth of field is one of those tasks that most people want yet can get flustered when trying to accomplish it through the lens. You can change the depth of field in Photoshop, but it's complicated to do, involving a depth channel as well as masks and so on. Now Adobe has added a Blur Gallery that lets you control depth of field, among other things.

Photoshop product manager Steven Nielson shows in this video how to use Photoshop to create a shallow depth of field in an in-focus photo. In other words, an element in the foreground is in focus while the rest of the image is out of focus. The in-focus subject is in sharp contrast to the out-focus backdrop, thus highlighting or drawing attention to the subject.

Using an effect called the Iris Blur in Photoshop CS6, you can achieve a shallow depth of field with a few drags of the mouse. You simply set the focal point and then indicate where and to what extent you want the surrounding area blurred. Photoshop automatically applies feathering to achieve the effect.

Watch Nielson show how it works.

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