Blur Images as Needed in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

Blur Images as Needed in Photoshop Elements 10

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

It may sound odd that anyone would intentionally want to blur an image. But, if your photo is overly grainy or suffers from a nasty moiré (wavy) pattern (described in the following list), you may need to blur the image to correct the problem.

And often, you may even want to blur the background of an image to deemphasize distractions, or to make the foreground elements appear sharper and provide a better focal point.

All the blurring tools are found on the Filter→Blur menu in Full Photo Edit or Quick Photo Edit mode, with the exception of the Blur tool:

  • Average. This one-step filter calculates the average value of the image or selection and fills the area with that average value. You can use it for smoothing overly noisy areas in your image.

  • Blur. Another one-step filter, this one applies a fixed amount of blurring to the whole image.

  • Blur More. This one-step blur filter gives the same effect as Blur, but more intensely.

  • Gaussian Blur. This blur filter is probably the one you’ll use most often. It offers a Radius setting to let you adjust the amount of blurring you desire.

    Use the Gaussian Blur filter to camouflage moiré patterns on scanned images. A moiré pattern is caused when you scan halftone images. A halftone is created when a continuous tone image, such as a photo, is digitized and converted into a screen pattern of repeating lines (usually between 85 and 150 lines per inch) and then printed.

    When you then scan that halftone, a second pattern results and is overlaid on the original pattern. These two different patterns bump heads and create a nasty moiré pattern. The Gaussian Blur filter doesn’t eliminate the moiré — it simply merges the dots and reduces the appearance of the pattern.

    Play with the Radius slider until you get an acceptable trade-off between less moiré and less focus. If you happen to have a descreen filter built into your scanning software, you can use that, as well, during the scanning of the halftone image.

  • Motion Blur. This filter mimics the blur given off by moving objects. Specify the angle of motion and the distance of the blur. Make sure to select the Preview check box to see the effect while you enter your values.

  • Radial Blur. Need to simulate a moving Ferris wheel or some other round object? This filter produces a circular blur effect. Specify the amount of blur you want. Choose the Spin method to blur along concentric circular lines, as shown in the thumbnail. Or, choose Zoom to blur along radial lines and mimic the effect of zooming in to your image. Specify your desired Quality level.

    Because the Radial Blur filter is notoriously slow, Elements gives you the option of Draft (fast but grainy), Good, or Best (slow but smooth). The difference between Good and Best is evident only on large, high-resolution images. Finally, indicate where you want the center of your blur by moving the blur diagram thumbnail.

  • Smart Blur. This filter provides several options to enable you to specify how the blur is applied. Specify a value for the radius and threshold, both defined in the following section. Start with a lower value for both and adjust from there.

    Choose a quality setting from the pop-up menu. Choose a mode setting. Normal blurs the entire image or selection. Edge Only blurs only the edges of your elements and uses black and white in the blurred pixels. Overlay Edge also blurs just the edges, but it applies only white to the blurred pixels.

  • Surface Blur. This filter blurs the surface or interior of the image, instead of the edges. If you want to retain your edge details, but blur everything else, use this filter.