How to add shallow depth of field in Photoshop

How-to-add-shallow-depth-of-field-in-PhotoshopA shallow depth of field is a great way of separating your subject from the background and create that popular creamy soft background in your photos. But sometimes, you are forced to shoot with settings that do not allow you to create a shallow depth of field, for example when you have to close your aperture down in bright conditions. In the featured video below, Aaron Nace from shows you how to add a fake shallow depth of field look later in Photoshop.

The basic procedure

This technique will work great if your photo already separates the foreground from the background – not in terms of depth of field, but in terms of the objects and their arrangements. The image Aaron uses in this tutorial has this property: It shows a woman in the foreground, some flat relatively featureless area in the middle ground and a wall of trees in the background.

Note that this will be far more difficult if your image is more complex and more busy, and if it does not have this clear structuring into foreground, middle ground and background. Nevertheless, this can be very handy for many photos.

The basic procedure consists of two steps:

  1. Aaron first creates a selection of the subject (the woman). In this case, he uses the Pen tool to do this.
  2. Then he applies the Tilt-Shift Blur filter from Photoshop’s Blur Gallery to the background only. This is actually the tricky part of the technique. When you get this wrong, the image will not look believable.

In the video, you will also learn some of the basics about using the Pen tool, the Refine Edge tool and the Tilt-Shift Blur filter.

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