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how to blur a background in post processing without Photoshop!

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by Farah, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Farah

    Farah Member

    Hi everyone,

    Is there a way to blur a background online (hopefully for free!)

    I have a photo of a family with a busy cluttered background and would like to haze out the distractions.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    I'd suggest finding a friend with some photo-editing software, so that the part of the picture you want to blur can be selected and then blurred. But making sure that the blurred bit doesn't overlap the bit to be kept sharp means it may take a few minutes to do. If you know anybody who has a camera and likes to get big prints done, he/she may have some software that can do what you want.

    I've read reviews of some camera phones in AP that have this feature 'built in', but the writers say that the process isn't perfect, and usually only good enough for pictures put on social media websites for viewing on small screens.

    The best suggestion I can make won't help this time, but next time try to spend as much time looking at the background as you do at the people. I may be as simple as moving them or yourself a few steps so that the background is better.
  3. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I doubt there is an online solution. You basically have to separate the family from the background, work on the background and join the two together again. Possibly it could be done using GIMP which is free to use but it is way beyond me.

    As Chester said, when taking pictures the first step to improving your photography is to learn to see the whole picture rather than just the main subject. Using a wide aperture helps narrow the depth of field when taking picturesand so deemphasises the background but it doesn't work well with camera-phones (even assuming you can control the aperture) and compact cameras with standard size sensors.
  4. Roger_Provins

    Roger_Provins Well-Known Member

    It can be done with GIMP. Not something for a first time try with photo software though. There no easy press button way to do the job convincingly.
  5. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    That's the point I was making - any editing software that allows the user to select an area of the image and then make changes only to that area will be able to do the job. But how well will depend on how accurately that area can be selected, and how much blur is applied to it. And, possibly the degree of blur will have to be different in some parts of the selected area than in others if the user wants a realistic 'depth of field' out of focus effect.

    Arguably there is an easy press button way to do the job, but it's only available at the time of taking the picture: use of the lens focus and aperture, but this option is only if you have a suitable camera.
  6. IvorCamera

    IvorCamera In the Stop Bath

    I have not come across an on line version except the one that has been mentioned on here, I do sometimes blur backgrounds on a few of my my pictures but that's with a free and very old P/Shop that came with a printer and its quite easy to do...
  7. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    You could always download a trial version of PS Elements and use that... The trial version allows full functionality (including saving/printing etc) for 30 calendar days.

    Alternatively you may still be able to download Serif's Photoplus SE for free from here. Never used this version so not sure how many of the features are locked out in this version. Apparently a free version of Photoplus 6 may still be available from here. Serif used to offer outdated versions of their software for free and this one worked quite well. Both versions will struggle with modern raw files but should be OK with JPEGs.

    Online you could try PixlR which should allow you to do what you want. You may find it a a bit sluggish with large image files though...
  8. Farah

    Farah Member

    Hi everyone, thank you so much for your replies. The first thing I do when I am asked to take photos is have a quick look around to spot the pleasing backgrounds, however in this case the photo has the pets and the cat is actually co operating!! So I quickly took the photo, unfortunately the kitchen is in the background even with a tight crop....I have contacted a local shop and the owner who has kindly agreed to blur out the background at a reasonable price.

    Now my next goal is to use my nifty fifty and be able to blur out backgrounds so i needn't worry about ugly backgrounds anymore!
  9. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    The ugly backgrounds may still be there, but blurred because you've used a larger aperture on the lens.
    It's still worth the trouble to avoid them completely if you get the chance, and sometimes moving a person a few inches will enable them to hide something in the background (ladies with big hats are ideal for this).
  10. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    You try asking a cat to move to a better background and then re-pose.
    GeoffR and DaveM399 like this.
  11. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    A cat that's not asleep has to be approached as a wildlife subject - however much you've studied its habits, it may do something unexpected and cannot be expected to take your needs into consideration. It's just the way that cats are.

    With children and dogs, sometimes food works.

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