How To Fake Depth of Field with Photoshop Elements

When the Depth of Field effect is useful:

Your photography subject looks great, but the background is a little distracting.

Or you just want to make your subject pop.

Or you adore the low aperture look, where the foreground and the background are blurry, but your subject is focused just right—except your camera isn’t capable of manually changing aperture, manually focusing, you don’t know how to change either, or you just didn’t have time to do it before you took the shot.

Before and After Depth of Field Effect PSE 12

Never fear, the Depth of Field effect is here, which will allow you to take your photo from this, to this.

guided mode depth of field PSE 12

For starters you have Photoshop Elements 12 opened up, along with the photo you would like to process. Go to Guided mode and on the right side panel choose Depth of Field

2 simple depth of field effect PSE 12

Once you’re there, you have the option for simple or custom. If you choose the simple option, it will blur the entire photo and you will add focus back in, in a radial form from the line you draw. Easy peasy. But if you want a little more say in what stays in focus and what gets blurred, you choose custom. That’s what we’ll be doing.

3 selection tool depth of field effect PSE 12

Step 1: Select Quick Selection Tool button.

Step 2: Click on Tool Options on the bottom of the screen to adjust your tool.

Step 3: Select the area you would like to keep in focus by dragging the selection tool around the photo.

4 selection tool options PSE 12

Tip: Make sure the little (+) appears in the center of the tool to make sure you are adding the selection. If the (-) appears in the center of the tool, that means you are subtracting from the selection. This selection mode is adjusted by choosing one of the three options found in the Tool Options section at the bottom. You can also adjust the size of the tool with the Tool Options slider bar, or the [ ] keys.

Step 4: When you accidentally select something that you want blurred, go to tool options and click on Subtract. Then subtract the area you mistakenly included until it is all removed from your selected portion.

5 blur tool depth of field effect PSE 12

Step 5: Click Blur button.

Step 6: Adjust the amount of blur with the slider below until you are satisfied.

Step 7: Click Done

 Depth of Field effect Adobe Photoshop Elements 12

Voila! You have a faux low aperture shot!

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About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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