How to edit your portraits to emphasise your bokeh background
01 ACR adjustments
Open your portrait in Adobe Camera Raw. Set Exposure to +1.30 to brighten the image, then set Highlights to +30 to lighten the highlights a bit more, and Blacks to +25 to add some fill light. Set Clarity to -15 to soften the detail a touch. Crop in on the image, then click Open Image to open the shot in Elements’ main editor.
Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the ‘Background’ layer, and remove any small blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush tool. Next click the top layer, and press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E to create a merged layer. Target this layer, go to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur, set both Radius and Threshold to 8 and click OK.
03 Blur the skin
Hold down Alt and click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers panel to add a black mask and hide the blur effect, then paint the blur back into just the model’s skin with white brush at 100% opacity. Add a Levels adjustment layer, and to lighten the image and boost the contrast set the Shadows slider to 15, Midtones to 1.23 and Highlights to 247.
04 Convert to mono
Create another merged layer, then go to Enhance > Convert to Black and White, select the Newspaper style and click OK. Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, and set Brightness to 15 and Contrast to 12. Set this layer’s blending mode to Overlay and reduce the opacity to 62%. Create another merged layer, go to Filter > Correct Camera Distortion and set Vignette Amount to 40 and Midpoint to 42.
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