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unsharpen and soften background of photos


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Folks,

sometimes on digi-pictures the focus of the camera catched a perfect set of faces/peoples on the shot. For the photo-print I am interested in a set of people only - say I want to make the people in the background being out of focus and additionally change the complete background more bright or dark...

So I can select the interesting part with the lasso tool and have this selection on a new layer - but the selection cannot be perfect - so I would like to add gradient to the blur. Say in the center of the picture I have the faces and in the background I have some other bodies around: doing it the "my" way I will have a hard cut between the sharp areas and the softened background

How can I apply a blur gradually?

Sorry, I am 1rst time user for such "advanced" pciture tools...

Thanks a lot!

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Thanks, the feather helps me!

Meanwhile I've found the way to achieve my goal:

1) create a layer select with the brush the foreground that shall stay untouched, create mask on this selection, hide painting layer

2) invert mask and copy selection

3) create a new layer and copy the selection to it (now this layer has just the background, the foreground is cut from it)

4) blur this new layer and copy it a couple of times

5) on each of the blured layers create a transparency gradient from the corner (non-transparent) to the position of the foreground (100% transparent)

6) now activate the background layer and all the blurred gradient layers

7) voila: now foreground is still untouched and sharp, and the set of gradient blurred layers provide the softened background.

8) in case the foreground seems to be too sharp compared to the background use the feather tool on the mask created in step 1)...

thanks a lot!

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