Lensbaby lenses are well known for the wonderful effects they produce – ethereal images characterised by a mix of in-focus and blurred elements. In this tutorial, Charles McKean shows you how to fake the Lensbaby look in Photoshop.
Software: Photoshop CS5 or Elements 9
Tutorial steps below...
Before and after: Faking the Lensbaby effect in Photoshop.
01 DOWNLOAD START IMAGE
Download the free start image here. Open the file in Photoshop CS5 or Photoshop Elements 9 (File > Open).
02 ELLIPTICAL MARQUEE TOOL
The first thing you need to do is work out which part of your image you want to be in focus. In this example I’ve chosen the drummer’s head. Generally, you’ll want the most interesting part of the image to be the sharpest. In the Tools panel select the Elliptical Marquee Tool and in the Tool Options bar choose a Feather of 0 pixels. (The Elliptical Marquee Tool may be hidden beneath the Rectangular Marquee Tool. If it is, right-click the Rectangular Marquee Tool to bring up the Elliptical option.)
03 CLICK AND DRAG
Move the cursor over the image and click-and-drag to draw an an oval shape around the drummer’s head. While the sweet spot of a Lensbaby lens is fixed in size, you can make the sweet spot as large or small as you like in Photoshop.
At the moment the selection has a hard edge, which is not what we want for this effect. We need to add a Feather so any effects we apply to the image will transition gradually. In the main menu go to Select > Modify > Feather. Experiment with different settings for your own images, but for this project enter a value of 40 pixels. Click OK to apply the change.
05 INVERSE SELECTION
Now, using our current selection, we’ll create our first blurred layer. In the main menu go to Select > Inverse. This step flips the selection so that everything except the focus area is selected.
06 NEW LAYER
Now, we need to copy everything in the selection to a new layer. To do this, duplicate this layer/selection by going to Layer > New > Layer via Copy. If you check the Layers panel now, you’ll see that a new layer has appeared with a section missing where the boy’s face should be.
07 GAUSSIAN BLUR
Now we are going to blur this new layer so make sure it is the active layer. (To make a layer active go to the Layers panel and click the desired layer. The active layer is marked blue.) In the main menu go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
08 BLUR RADIUS
Just as Feather Radius is dependent on the resolution of the file, so to is Gaussian Blur. If you are working on a large image you will need to dial in a larger Radius than you would if you were working on a small file. Experiment to see what works best with your own images, but in this case use a Radius of 9 pixels.
09 ANOTHER SELECTION
One of Lensbaby’s fabulous features is a pronounced distortion near the edge of the frame so let’s have a go at replicating that. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool again but this time draw a larger oval than before. Extend the selection outside your document window as we’ve done here (see image below).
10 ANOTHER NEW LAYER
Using the same process as before go to the main menu and choose Select > Inverse to invert the selection. Now go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy.
11 RADIAL BLUR
The next step is to apply a Radial Blur to this top layer. In the main menu go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur and set an Amount value between 20 and 30. Change the Blur Method to Zoom and the Quality to Good. These settings should work well with most images but it’s always a good idea to experiment to see what works best for you. Click OK to apply the change.
12 TRY A REAL LENSBABY
And that’s it – the Lensbaby look without the Lensbay lens! Of course, if you like the effect, it might be time to invest in a real Lensbaby. Lensbaby lenses are relatively inexpensive and there are mounts to suit most interchanchable-lens cameras. There are currently four Lensbaby models in the range: Muse ($125), Composer ($329), Control Freak ($429) and Scout ($310). They’re fun to use and the results are always interesting.