Lightroom: How To Blur Backgrounds

Lightroom offers users a number of features to help them improve the look of their photos, and these include correcting only certain areas of the photo. One of those features includes blurring the background of photos. This can be done via the clarity tool in the Develop module.

Step 1: Blurring the Background for Emphasis

Backgrounds can often be distracting, especially if extraneous things like gas stations, signs or even other people show up in the photographs. Users, however, can use tools to diminish the background. This will create some distance between the background and the foreground subject.

This extra contrast will focus the attention on the subject, and it will also create an interesting photograph with the effect. The ability to blur the background is an easy skill to learn, and any amateur user will be able to do it.

Step 2: Using the Clarity Tool to Blur the Background

The clarity tool is located within the Develop module. The Develop module in Lightroom is the experimental section of the program. Users can basically experiment with changes to a photo without ever affecting the original photo. This way, users can add effects, crop the photo and manipulate the photo in a variety of ways without ever having to worry about adversely affecting the original photo.

Further, users can make virtual copies of their original photos so that they are only manipulating a copy. The original photo will never be affected.

Now, it's time to use the clarity tool. The clarity tool is located in the Presence panel. Like many of the other tools in Lightroom, users can manipulate the tool via the Amount Slider. To reduce the background, users should follow the below procedures:

  1. Users need to open up the photo that needs to be changed. Users should try cropping the photo as much as possible to remove as many extraneous items as possible.
  2. Move the clarity tool to the negative setting. Users may have to manipulate this a bit until they get it to the correct blur. The negative setting is when the slider is moved to the left. For more blur, users should move it further to the left.
  3. Now, users need to select the Targeted Adjustment Tool. This tool is located in the upper left-hand side of the panel. It is a circle with a dot inside of it, and there are two arrows, one pointing up and one pointing down.
  4. Users should now drag the Targeted Adjust Tool to the background and drag it around the background. Users should keep dragging the tool until the whole area is selected.

Now, the blur effect will just be added to the background. Users can further manipulate the blur if need be.

Step 3: What the Clarity Tool Does

Once the background has been manipulated, users should see a larger difference between the background and the foreground. The clarity tool basically just increases the contrast. People's eyes are naturally drawn to anything that's clear and sharp. Most people will now ignore the background of the photo and instead focus on the foreground subject.