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Adobe update brings camera phone 'portrait mode' to Photoshop

(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.

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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 suggests, like other cloud-based plugins it will likely improve further the more people use it.

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