Skip to main content

Adobe update brings camera phone 'portrait mode' to Photoshop

Adobe
(Image credit: Adobe)

The latest update to Adobe Photoshop will give desktop photo editors an instant portrait effect similar to that of the 'Portrait Mode' found on camera phones. The update includes a new Neural Filter called Depth Blur that lets photographers choose different focal points in their images and blurs the background intelligently, in doing so creating a bokeh effect similar to using a fast portrait-length lens.

It is already possible to create this effect in Photoshop by using various blurs and manually masking subjects, but the process can be tedious and time consuming, especially for beginners. The Depth Blur feature automates the process and, although not instant, makes achieving sharp subjects and blurred backgrounds much easier.

Read more: Best photo editing software (opens in new tab)

The new tool is part of a May 2021 update to Adobe Photoshop and can be found in the 'Filters' drop-down menu, under 'Neural Filters'. It works by creating a depth map of your image which can be adjusted with an artificial depth of field. The effect can give images that were not taken with a wide-open fast lens the appearance of one (giving you the option to focus on foreground or background objects and blur out the background or foreground respectively). 

There is plenty of room for altering the strength of the effect, with Blur Strength, Focal Range, Focal Distance, as well as Haze, Warmth, and Brightness adjustment available before applying the filter. You can preview the effect these adjustments will make as well as changes to the desired focal point in the image.

As the version is still in Beta, there are still a few issues such as occasional difficulty in selecting objects or identifying focal planes, but photographers can expect a more polished version when it is officially released. And as PetaPixel (opens in new tab) suggests, like other cloud-based plugins it will likely improve further the more people use it.

Read more

Best free photo editor (opens in new tab)
Best laptop for photo editing (opens in new tab)
Best photo editing tools (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Laurence is an NCTJ-trained journalist with nearly 20 years' editorial experience gained on a wide range of publications, from The Beirut Times in Lebanon to The Sunday Times, and including recent freelance engagements with Future's cycling and automotive portfolios, Outdoor Fitness, and The English Home. He has recently been undertaking a sports broadcast journalism MA at Southampton Solent, gaining valuable TV and radio experience, and am currently videographer for Frome Town FC soccer team. He is the author of Bikepacking (Wild Things Publishing, 2016).