Want to add a shallow depth of field to your picture? Tim Clinch shows you how to do it simply, quickly and effectively…

For the first time since starting this column, I have to admit the little trick I’m about to show you is possibly better done with Photoshop. Lightroom does it, but in a less sophisticated way. However, if you’re in need of a quick-fix, Lightroom does it brilliantly.

It’s adding shallow depth of field to your images.

I’m choosing an image I shot on my iPhone. It’s a jar of terrine en gelee on a rustic table in France during a recent shoot there. Depth of field is a problem for mobile photography, as well as for most point and shoot cameras, so this is a good example.

First of all, here is the image, converted to B&W as it came out of the camera.

It’s quite nice, but the lines of the table are far too sharp at the back and a bit distracting.

I choose the adjustment brush, and move the sharpness slider to -75. I use it in exactly the same way as if I’m darkening or lightening parts of the image as I’ve shown you in previous months, and simply paint on to the parts I want softened.

By hitting the O-key, the areas I’ve painted appear in red (to lose this, simply hit the O-key again). It’s better to start around -75 as you can always paint over it again if you want a stronger effect.

In this case, I do, so I simply set a new brush and repeat the process. You can repeat this process as often as you need. All that is left now is to take the highlights down a little and darken the exposure slightly on the left hand side of the table using the adjustment brush and we’re done. The finished image looks much better.

This is obviously fairly crudely done, but it instantly takes away that point and shoot look the image had before and concentrates the eye on the main subject. If you have a subject with a harder edge (for instance, a figure in a landscape) and you want the blur to go right up to the edge of the subject, simply tick the Auto Mask box and the adjustment brush will automatically take the effect right up to the edge of your chosen subject.

As I’ve said, some of the Blur tools in Photoshop 6 are much more powerful than this, but, for simple things like this image, it does a really good job.

Now for some rather exciting news. Lightroom 5 has now been released. I’ve had a little play with it and some of the new features are truly amazing! So, as of next month, I will be taking you on a tour of it. Hold on to your hats folks.. .it’ll blow you away!

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