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How to Blur Background in Lightroom

Background blur is more than just a visual aesthetic, it can be used to focus the viewer’s attention on a specific point or just to hide out some details. Although it is better to use the in-camera settings to blur the background, sometimes you just forget to use the wider aperture. Fortunately, Lightroom comes with a range of tools that can be used for this purpose. In this guide, you will learn how to blur background in Lightroom using Brushes and Radial Filters. 

The Lightroom Brush Tool is used to apply the blur in a very directed and specific manner. If you want full control over the blur, then you should use this one. Whereas, you can only apply Radial Filters in a specific shape but they are the best if you wish to save time. 

Brush Tool

In the first method, we will see how to blur background in Lightroom using the Brushes. As mentioned above, this method allows us to specify the areas on which we are going to apply the blur. Let us see how it works.

Step 1:

The first step is just to open the image and make sure that you start editing in the Develop Module of Lightroom.

Step 2: How to Blur Background in Lightroom

In this step, you have to mask the areas of the image which you want to blur. Since we need to blur specific areas of the image, we will have to create the mask ourselves. You can do it by using the Brush Tool. Head into the Brush Panel to select any of the preset brush effects for this purpose. 

You can also create your brush effect but it takes more time as you have to adjust all of the settings. For starters, presets are the better option but you can move on to the custom effects once you get the hang of the tool.

Step 3:

Now that you have selected the effect, you need to paint over the image to create a mask. In the panel, you should select the Show Selected Mask Overlay option. When you paint over an area, this option will show that in red so you know exactly where you are applying the blur. You can also erase the blur to remove it from some parts of the image. This is the most important step of learning how to blur background in Lightroom. 

Also, you can change the brush effect even in the middle of the process but it will apply the change throughout the image.

Step 4: How to Blur Background in Lightroom

In the final step, you just have to set the values of Clarity and Sharpness to fine-tune the blur effect. There are no rules for these values as they vary from picture to picture. Just put in different values and see which one results in a better image. 

Once the results look good, then you can save the image.

Bird with blur background - How to Blur Background in Lightroom

Photo edited in Lightroom.

Radial Filters

Now, let us see how to blur background in Lightroom using Radial Filters. You can find it under the Histogram and then select New. After that, clicking on the arrows will open up your menu.

Step 1:

In this step, you have to adjust the Feather value. It determines the transition from sharp to blur part of the image. To keep it smooth, you can select a value around 50.

As discussed above, Radial Filters are applied in a specific shape which can be either oval or circle. If you want the blur to be applied inside that shape, you can select Invert Mask.

Step 2: How to Blur Background in Lightroom

Now you have to place the Radial Filter on the image. You can move it anywhere on the image. Also, you can change the shape of the filter by clicking and dragging it. The size of the filter can also be adjusted by the same process. 

Step 3:

Just like we did in the previous method, it is time to fine-tune the blur effect. You can be do it by adjusting the values of both Clarity and Sharpness. As mentioned before, there is no hard and fast rule for this, you can use the sliders to determine which values work best with the given images.

Step 4: How to Blur Background in Lightroom

At this stage, you have only learned how to blur background in Lightroom using Radial Filters; this is just an optional step. This step is also similar to one of the steps of the previous method. Using the Colored Overlay will give you a better understanding of the blur areas. If you do not want to blur a certain area, then you can erase the blur from that area.

Conclusion - How to Blur Background in Lightroom

In order to sum it all up, it is always better to use the in-camera settings to apply the blur, but even if you forget to apply these settings, you now know how to blur background in Lightrrom. Keep learning.

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