onOne Software’s FocalPoint 2; Post-Exposure Depth-Of-Field Control Page 2

12. Now, with the aid of FocalPoint 2, the young guitarist is the focused center of attention and the background is blurred to a point that it is no longer distracting. While the girl is not the primary focal point, selectively sharpening only her face adds emotion and conveys the connection between the two. While purists may bemoan the fact that this could not have been shot with a real lens, we are now deeply into the digital age. I will call on all tools available that help me create the image I seek.

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13. Serious architectural photography has always been associated with the view camera. If you don’t have one, FocalPoint 2 has an alternative. To try the plug-in’s architectural tricks, I started with this night shot of New York City skyscrapers. Choosing the Planar FocusBug option brings up a square version of the FocusBug with an associated rectangular grid, seen here. Positioning the grid via the two side handles determines the plane of sharpest focus, which lies within the grid. With the Planar FocusBug, you can emulate the tilt-shift controls of a view camera. Outside the grid, FocalPoint 2 renders the other buildings out of focus.

Just as with the Round FocusBug, move the right antenna to control the amount of blur and the amount of feathering. Pull the antenna out—make it longer—for more blur. Drag the antenna clockwise for less feathering, counterclockwise for more feathering.

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14. Because the buildings on the right have distractingly bright windows, I decide to tone them down. In the Options panel, I take the Brightness down to -22. Your eye automatically goes to the sharpest and brightest areas of an image, and I want the focus on the Chrysler Building.

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15. To complete the view camera effect, I add a vignette which would result from using a lens that does not cover the full view camera format. In the Vignette panel seen here, I create a dark vignette by lowering the Lightness slider to 0. Next, I uncheck “Vignette Follows FocusBug” and move the Vignette Midpoint slider to position the darkened edges just where I want them.

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16. Now, the enhancements I created with FocalPoint 2 focus controls have helped me add dramatic atmosphere, character, and mystery to these midtown sentinels.

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17. In addition to portraits, soft-focus effects have long been used for landscape and floral studies. One technique I use for flower photography involves shooting two exposures on one frame, one in focus and one out of focus. To emulate this effect from an existing single exposure image, I began with this shot of tulips.

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18. In FocalPoint 2, I select the Round FocusBug and push the four legs inward, collapsing the grid so that the entire image will be defocused. I adjust the Blur Amount to 86 percent by pulling the right antenna out away from the center. I set Feather to 41 percent by moving the antenna counterclockwise.

A novel feature of this plug-in is that it lets you choose to emulate the blur from a selection of Canon and Nikon lenses. In the Blur panel, I selected the Canon 100 2.8 Macro lens at f/2.8.

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19. Other features to consider when fine-tuning your soft-focus effects are found under the Options panel, seen here. Brightness and Contrast are self-explanatory. The Highlight Bloom slider varies the look of the out-of-focus highlights, giving them a larger or smaller “bloom” and can add some interesting graphic effects.

When you blur an image, the natural grain is often smoothed over. The Film Grain slider enables you to add or reduce the appearance of film grain to match a scan from film or for a special effect. Adjust it to add back lost grain while checking the Zoom tool at a large magnification to ensure that the grain matches the rest of the image.

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20. Once the parameters have been set to create the completely defocused tulip layer, I click the Apply button and wait 10-12 seconds for the rendered image to open in Photoshop. Next, in the CS4 Layers panel, seen here, I go to the Blend Modes drop-down menu at the upper left of the panel, to try different settings. The defocused FocalPoint layer must be the active (highlighted) layer.

At the default Normal Blend mode, the image is totally defocused. However, by cycling through the different blend possibilities, a number of striking effects can be revealed. To simulate the double exposure effect, I find that the Lighten Blend mode works best for these flowers. To fine-tune it, I lower the layer opacity to 85 percent via the Opacity drop-down slider just to the right of the Blend mode.

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21. Now the centers of the tulips are sharp while the entire background is defocused and lightened, simulating a double exposure of one sharp image over an out-of-focus one of the same subject.

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Smart Filters & More
There is now support for nondestructive editing via Smart Filters in Adobe’s Photoshop CS3, CS4, and CS5. The new FocusBrush is a welcome tool. Also making its debut, the onOne floating panel can be activated in Photoshop to access your favorite FocalPoint 2 effects and presets right from the panel. Further, you can now access the plug-in from within Adobe’s Lightroom 2 and 3 as well as Apple’s Aperture 2.1 and 3.

System And Host Requirements, Contact Info
Host: Adobe Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, or CS5; Adobe Lightroom 2 (requires Photoshop); Apple Aperture 2.1 or 3; Photoshop Elements 7 or 8 (Windows); Photoshop Elements 6 or 8 (Mac OS X)
System Requirements: Windows: XP, Vista, or 7; Mac: OS X 10.5 or 10.6; Windows and Mac: 2GB of RAM
Price: $159.95 (full version); $99.95 (upgrade)
Website: Free trial download, examples, video tutorials, software updates, user forums, and FAQ at: www.ononesoftware.com.

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