Background blur is a subtle way to bring the subject into focus in your photo. Of course, this blur has more value if you achieve it through depth of field on your camera, but if your camera can’t do that, you can compensate by creating an artificially blurred effect.

There are many tools and methods for blurring the background in Photoshop, and the more effort you put into this task, the better results you’ll get. In this article, we are going to cover a fast and easy method to blur the background of a photo in Photoshop.

how to make blur background in photoshop

The Blur Gallery in Photoshop offers a variety of blur effects that you can use on your photos. There are many different types of blur in photography and each of them is achieved through different phenomena. As such, the different blur filters in Photoshop’s Blur Gallery aim to mimic those photographic effects.

One filter that allows you to mimic depth of field in Photoshop is Iris Blur. Unlike some other blur filters, Iris Blur isn’t a blanket filter that covers an entire layer in one click. This filter allows you to control the extent of the blur, its strength, and its focal point to simulate blur more accurately.

Simply adding iris blur to your photo will not give you the super-realistic depth of field effect that is achieved on cameras. You will need to modify the image further to get such a result. However, compared to the effort it requires, Iris Blur is a reliable tool for blurring the background of your photos.

For example, here we have a stock photo of a stylish man posing for the camera. We want to use Iris Blur to bring faces into focus and blur out the rest of the photo.

Iris blur is displayed as an elliptical ring with four smaller dots on it and another middle ring surrounded by four larger dots in the center. You can change the blur settings by dragging these pins and dots with your mouse.

Pin: There is a pin in the center of the middle ring. This pin defines the focal point in the picture where you want the image to be sharp and clear. Move the pin where you want the focus to be.

The blur dial: This is the small circle that surrounds the pin. Click and drag the blur dial clockwise to increase blur, or drag the blur dial counterclockwise to decrease blur. You can also control the blur with the Blur slider in the Blur Tools panel on the right.

Elliptical Ring: This controls the shape of the blur in the rest of the image. As you move from the center to the outer ring, the blur effect approaches 100%. Everything outside the ring has the maximum blur density applied.

Four dots on the elliptical ring: Hover your mouse over one of the small dots until your cursor changes to a curved double-ended arrow. Click and drag the blurred ellipses to lengthen or rotate them. Use the square handle to change the size of the entire ring. If you want to keep the shape while resizing, drag the line (not the dots) of the ellipse.

Four large dots inside the elliptical ring: These four dots control the area where the blur begins. Click and drag the white dots to adjust the size of the blurred area. Move the dots closer to the pins to make the blur transition smoother or move the dots further away from the pins to make the blur transition sharper.

Apply blur by clicking on the OK button at the top of the blur bar. That’s it! You’ve just artificially added some depth of field to your photograph, and with almost zero effort. It’s best to be subtle with the Iris Blur to keep things looking natural. Going overboard with the blur density can ruin your photo.

If you want a more advanced blur effect, check out How to Create Background Blur in Photoshop with Luminar’s Portrait Bokeh AI.

Shifting Focus with Iris Blur

Getting depth of field in your photos naturally through photographic physics is a great skill, but if you don’t have the tools for it, you can try to mimic it on your computer with Photoshop.

Although creating a super realistic depth of field effect takes effort, you can settle for a simple yet realistic blur effect with Iris Blur in Photoshop. Now that you know how to quickly add blur using Iris Blur in Photoshop, it’s time to move on and experiment with it in Photoshop.

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