Project Description

This video demonstrates techniques for drawing attention in photos with creative focus effects. We show you how to use Exposure to add blurring and how to control the amount and style of blur. Learn about advanced editing controls such as highlight boosting and grain matching.

Photo: Michael Gillman, Robert Lounsberry


What is Bokeh?

The term ‘Bokeh’ refers to the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of an image. It’s a phenomenon that occurs in several different varieties depending on the lens. Exposure’s creative focus tools on the Bokeh panel replicate the unique characteristics of many lenses and other creative effects.

When the panel is open the focus region controls appear in the large preview image in the middle of the screen. When the panel is closed, these controls disappear, but the blurring effects will still be displayed.

To preview the effect without obscuring the image with controls, close and open the panel. Use +0 or Ctrl+0 to toggle the Bokeh panel.

Focus Regions

Control where the out of focus effects appear with focus regions. They specify areas to protect from the blur. There are three different types of regions: Radial, Planar, and Half planar.

Add a noticeable blur before placing a focus region to visualize the placement of the effect. Once you position the effect where you want it, adjust the blur settings to your preference.

A Radial focus region is added by default. Radial regions are a great option for portraits to draw attention to the subject. Click and drag within the region to move it. Stretch and resize with the handles. Drag the dotted circle to adjust the transition from clear to blurred.

Delete the selected focus region with the trash can button

Planar focus regions come in two varieties, planar and half planar. Planar blurs the image in both directions from the center line, while half planar blurs the image in only one direction.

Again, move the region by dragging. Click and drag the solid line to change the angle. The dotted lines indicate where the blurring effect reaches the maximum.

Because the planar region blurs in both directions from the center line, it can be used to create a tilt-shift effect. This can make landscapes look like miniature models. It also works well with close-up portraits to focus attention on the eyes.

Blurring Controls

Working in the Bokeh panel is simple. Begin making adjustments at the top of the panel and work your way to the bottom. The presets list is the best way to quickly find the effect you’re looking for. There are creative aperture shapes, motion effects, and presets that simulate the look and feel of real lenses.

Control how much blur is applied with the Amount slider. At zero no effect is applied. Zoom adds a smear to the effect like zooming the lens while the aperture is open. Twist alters the zoom effect to create spiral and spinning motion effects.

Bokeh highlights are the bright out-of-focus points of light in your image.

The Creamy slider controls the look of the distinctive bokeh highlights. When the slider is placed at an extreme positive value, it will make smooth highlights. Low negative values have hollow highlights that resemble rings.

Curvature controls the inward curve of the sides of the aperture shape. It isn’t available if the selected shape is a circle or a heart.

This control shows the base shape of the aperture. Click it to select a different shape. You’ll see these shapes in bright areas of the image in the blurred sections.

The controls in the Highlights section enhance bright specular areas in the photo. Increase the Boost slider to brighten the highlights. Raising the Threshold slider makes more areas of highlights appear. In the brightest areas you’ll see bright flares in the shape of the aperture.

Exposure’s grain panel isn’t affected by the Bokeh blurring. If your original image already has grain, blurring effects will remove it. Use grain matching to reintroduce grain. Adjust the Strength and Size sliders to match the grain in the unblurred areas of your photo. If you’re adding grain from the Grain panel, it’s best to turn that panel off while you make adjustments to the grain matching feature.