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How to Blur a Picture

Whether you’re working with a portrait and looking to blur the trees behind your model or working with a plate of food and looking to make the subject stand apart from the kitchen scenery in the back — the art of blurring can make a photo beautiful.

Luminar has some excellent filters that will help you to easily achieve the blur effect in your images. Combined with its ability to build layers, you’ll have complete control over blurring various elements of the photo during the editing process — resulting in end results that wow. 

Start by opening your photo in Luminar. Next, create a new blurring layer by clicking on the + button in the Layers panel and selecting Add New Adjustment Layer. This is where you will work on blurring the background. Click on the brush icon to select the brush tool, then paint your subject at 100 percent opacity.

It might seem counter-intuitive at first to paint the photo’s subject — when you really want to blur the background. But, this is a good approach, as it’s faster to paint the person and then invert the mask — than it is to paint the entire background area.

Once you've completed painting the subject in your photo — go to the gear icon in the brush menu, then click on Invert. The mask will now cover the background. At this point, you may want to touch up the edges a bit to ensure that everything looks the way you want it before applying the blurring effect.

Now comes the fun part! Luminar provides some terrific blurring tools to choose from, including Soft Focus, Soft Glow, and Image Radiance. Chose among these to create the effect you want in the image. Go lightly with the blurring effect, so as to not make the photo look unnatural. You can check your work by clicking on the Preview button in the top toolbar to gauge your progress.

Once the blurred background in the photo looks how you want it to look, return to the first layer and add a bit of blurring to the subject, too. Image Radiance is a great choice for this task. Most likely, you'll apply less blurring to the person than the background. The goal of this edit is to create some visual separation between these two elements in the photo.


As you work, you might notice an edge that becomes pronounced along the outside of the subject. This creates the effect of making the person look like he or she was cut out from the background and it can easily be fixed.

Return to the blurred background layer of the image, choose the brush tool, and set the opacity to 50 percent. Now paint along the edge of the person. This will blur the edge just enough to help it look natural against the photo's background.

To finish off the editing of your image, go back and forth between the layers a couple of times, making adjustments so they look natural together. Click on the Preview button to see how different the original photo is from your blurred version.

At this point, you may want to adjust the photo's color balance and exposure, too. For example, adding a little warmth via the Warmth slider in the Soft Glow filter can breath life into the photo's subject. Other filters such as Tone can be helpful for tweaking highlights and shadows.

Be sure to save the work you've done to the photo before finishing up and that’s that.

From all of us at Macphun, we hope you enjoy the creative freedom of blurring your photos!


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