Mouse over the image to see a before and after
A while back I got a peek at a plug-in from Alien Skin called Bokeh. I was familiar with previous Alien Skin products which were mainly used for creating special effects in photos. This plug-in however was different. For those of you don’t aren’t familiar with the term “bokeh” it is a word derived from the Japanese term boke, meaning fuzzy. In photographic terms, it is used to describe the soft out of focus portion of an image when using a large aperture with a shallow depth of field. The most preferred bokeh is soft and smooth. You can get this effect by using a lens such as the legendary Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 or the EF 85mm f/1.2. The problem with using one of these lenses is that they cost upwards of $1500 – $1800. A more cost effective solution is the Bokeh plug-in.
You can select your subject and then apply the filter to the unselected area or use one of the other features such as radial or planar blurring. You can also choose to replicate the bokeh from several different lenses, including the afformentioned Canon 50 and 85 mm lenses. The effect is far and away better than any blur tool in Photoshop, including the Lens Blur filter (see the image below).
The only down-side to the Bokeh filter would be the price. At $199, it’s a bit pricey but considering the results and what you would pay for a lens that achieves the same effect, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable. If you are a NAPP member you can knock 10% off the price using the special NAPP discount code found on the member’s page. Make sure you check back next week for a video tutorial where I will demonstrate some of the filter features. I would post it now but I’m having way too much fun playing.