The Alligator – lens blur effect

I shot this photo two years ago, but I wasn’t pleased with the result so I had to take it to my digital darkroom. (Digital “darkroom” is the hardware, software and techniques used in digital photography that replace the darkroom equivalents, such as enlarging, cropping, dodging and burning, as well as processes that don’t have a film equivalent. – Wikipedia).
Here’s the result:

Photo of an alligator, by

Photo of an alligator, by

This is how I created this image and the lens blur effect:

  1. Duplicated the photo layer.
  2. Created a new alpha channel
  3. Drew a circle
  4. Edit in Quick mask mode
  5. Added some Gaussian blur & then brushed with white the parts I wanted to keep clear.
  6. Entered normal mode
  7. Chose the alpha 1 channel from the channels panel.
  8. Transfered the selection to the channel by holding the Alt button and hit Delete. Then deselect.
  9. Back to the RGB channel.
  10. Added lens blur with source set to Alpha 1 channel (tick off “Invert”)
  11. Sharpened the image
  12. Burned highlights, shadows & midtones with a low opacity
  13. Added a brightness/contrast layer and a photo filter (warming 85 – density 15).
  14. Added watermarks and metatags.

If you want more detailed information on the process, or a full tutorial, please let me know. What do you think of the final result?

32 thoughts on “The Alligator – lens blur effect

  1. Very interesting! I’ve copied your instructions and am going to have a practise. I use GIMP as opposed to Photoshop because we use Linux as opposed to Windows. I’ve been using Layers for a while, especially for making simple animations, but I’ve never got into or really understood Channels. All my GIMPing is self-taught and it takes time to experiment and figure things out. It would be great to contact you if I get really stuck. Thanks for this post – it’s set me off on a new track – or maybe I should say Channel! 🙂 Great Alligator!

  2. I tried to follow the instructions too last night [in PS], but I was too tired, to be able to even think straight. Will give it another go today..
    Can’t say that I have the full grasp of ‘Channels’ either … I’ve only used it before, to turn a picture b/w.

          • I try not to, but I am, most of the time. Last night, I took a really deep dive with the PS thing. The tab with ‘Channels’ had somehow, magically, gotten hidden!!! I knew I had seen them before — I used to use them, but now, they were nowhere to be found. Today I found them and could finally complete that instruction. Just got the email, for which I thank you ever so much … Will find a more suitable picture than I had this morning, and do it again… It was a great technique, that I [obviously] didn’t know before.. 😀

  3. Pingback: today I learned something | colderweather

  4. Would have liked to see the “before” image to get a better idea of the “after” effect.

    For what is it worth, I use to do all my post processing with PS Bridge and CS3. Like you show for your image, lots of steps and time put forth.

    I got rid of PS (I didn’t want to pay the fee to upgrade, in part, but more importantly…) because of the release of new image editing software which eliminated almost all of the CS3 steps I had to use on my images.

    Today, I use Nikon Capture NX2 (For Nikon camera RAW images) and PE as a host for the new editing software. My average time for editing an image with this new software is about 5-10 minutes. No layers or masks, just the occasional cone stamp work.

    In short, all I have to do is point and click on that part of the image I want to work on and adjust some sliders. That it is! I can adjust brightness, contrast, blur, detail, and lots more.

    Nic Software. Check it out, especially Color Efex Pro 4. Folks can download and try the various software. The real plus, there is a very short learning curve to learn how to use it. Hmm, how long did it take me to really learn and apply PS?

    Here’s the filter list available with Nik Software plugin, Color Efex Pro 4…

    Sorry! Felt compelled to yak away, but I’m all for photographers having an easier time editing their images.

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