In Photoshop (current version is CC 2014 (2014.2.1 20141014.r.257 x64)) I did the following steps of interest:

  1. duplicate background w/subject masked
  2. apply a blur filter of some kind to the background, heavily.

Now since the subject was carefully masked (thanks to Select Focused for doing most of the work!) I have an effect that looks like a very shallow depth of field. The uninteresting background can be abstracted.

However, I get an unwanted border around the subject. The blur of the background includes the subject which spreads out to affect the color of neighboring pixels, and that shows up as a fringe when I drop the sharp version of the subject in.

enter image description here

I tried adding an inverse of the mask to the filter layer's mask, but it didn't do anything.

Is there an easy way to address this? I'm pretty sure that the overall approach is the classic way of doing this, so I must be missing something.

(I used the Blur Gallery, with Field Blur or Iris Blur. It doesn't matter since the mask generated is applied after blurring the entire image)

  • \$\begingroup\$ This should be posted in graphicdesign.stackexchange.com \$\endgroup\$
    – SaturnsEye
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 11:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ So what questions would be in photo.stackexchange, presuming it uses Photoshop on photos for traditional photo effects, and is tagged [photoshop]? \$\endgroup\$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 12:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This question should be on topic. Multiple discussions over on meta have covered this before, see meta.photo.stackexchange.com/q/1260/4892 Do note though that just because a tag exists and you use it, does not make a question on topic here. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ The fact that it is the edit of a photo doesn't necessarily mean it's suited of photo.se. What you're trying to achieve is something that Photoshop does regardless of the subject \$\endgroup\$
    – SaturnsEye
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 16:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SaturnsEye Yes, but I think our criteria is generally basically the opposite of that test. If it's doing something with a photograph, it's on-topic, even if the same tools or techniques could serve other purposes. On the other hand, just because a tool could be used for photographs not all uses of it are relevant. It's the context that matters. Again, see the meta discussion dpollitt linked. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


Use the "Lens Blur" filter, which is basically a variable diameter blur function that a) avoids the effect of the focused object bleeding into the background and b) uses a more realistic kernel which more closely resembles an out of focus background.

You can select the area you want to remain sharp in advance, and then tell the filter how much the rest of the image should be blurred. Alternatively you can create a depth map which allows you to have more distant parts of the image even more blurred for the most realistic effect.


I think you need to remove the subject from the copied background layer, before applying the blur. Use the selection you are using to create the mask - and use it to cut out the subject from the copy. Then apply the blur. Then apply the mask.


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