Use blur and contrast to focus attention in portraits

Learn how to focus attention in portraits using a tilt & shift style of blur, and also how to create a high contrast, diffuse glow desaturation technique that produces a punchy colour and tone effect. You can apply the whole technique in Photoshop, or simple use one of the individual smaller effects used within the main technique – it’s entirely up to you.

Editing portraits in Photoshop is just as important as taking the best image you can with great lighting at the shooting stage. Fixing poor shooting technique shouldn’t be the motivation for editing your images – it should be to apply effects to add mood to your portraits, and to help direct the viewers’ attention and emotional response to the image.

Focus attention in portraits

Applying tilt & shift blur is a great way to focus attention on a specific part of an image. And while it’s a technique applied both in-camera using a specialist lens or in post-processing most commonly to landscape images, it works exceptionally well with portraits and fashion images too. Combine this with your favourite colour or toning effect and you could be on your way to a unique editing style.

Take a look at the before and after images below to see how much of a difference this quick and easy Photoshop technique can make to your portraits.

Before and after images


Tlit & shift glow effect before


Tilt & shift glow effect afterThe end result is drastically different to the original thanks to the tilt & shift blur effect and the glowing desaturation. By following the tutorial exactly you can achieve exactly the same effect yourself. But if you’d like to simply use the blur effect with your own colour and tone styling, this can be applies at the end of the blur stage and by missing out the desaturation part of the tutorial.

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