Extract is gone from CS4 and although I didn't like that, I read of a new tutorial showing how to do the same thing but with much more control and the ability to go over your mistakes from Russel Brown. Here is the tutorial and it's very much well worth the 10 mins to watch it.


Next, it's easy enough to remove a background and replace it with another. It's far harder to blur a distracting background and make it look natural. Of course you can't beat shooting a lens wide open but often you need the DOF but the background is less than ideal.

Couple of problems, firstly Gaussian Blur looks unnatural period. Secondly when you apply the GB, it blurs the subject as well so that even if you have a nicely extracted layer on top, there will be blurred subject forming a halo around your sharp subject. You can blur the non subject area only but then the transparency leaks into the background and you again have a halo. Try it and see!

Answer to the first part is using Lens Blur, it's far better than GB for creating an OOF background though it needs tweaking. Secondly is an answer from Thomas Knoll that I found on an ancient DPReview post, it's kinda complicated, I'll supply the technical stuff below.

Anyway what I'm leading up to is an action I made as a followup to the above video and using some of the concepts from it. You have to make a selection first as he explains but from there, hit the action, enter amounts of blur when prompted and it should give you a decent looking result.

Feel free to download but please do not post this link elsewhere, let me know if there are any problems. Again, you have to watch the video first unless you know how to make a selection on your subject already and know how to use the Refine Edges tool.


Now for the technical bit: To apply a blur without it using (smearing) elements from outside a selection, make the selection, Ctrl J (layer via copy), reapply the selection, lock the layer, click off all the eyes (view layer) apart from that of the new layer, then apply the blur. Most of the time it works...