Introducing Sagelight Bokeh (and Fast Depth of Field)


Sagelight Bokeh

Sagelight Bokeh is now available in Sagelight Version 4.2


Sagelight Bokeh functions consist of fast, comprehensive, and extensive Bokeh, Lens Blur, and Fast Depth of Field functions.

Sagelight Bokeh was written in SSE2 and SSE4 code for ultimate speed and a realtime display as you change settings.  You can use a vignette-style auto-shape mask as well as your own mask (both at the same time).   You can move the auto mask on the screen easily and in realtime, and you can edit your own mask (or load it in) inside the Bokeh/Lens Blur function to make changes without having to exit and come back in. 

Fast. Sagelight Bokeh delivers a realtime display where you can make changes to the blur, masking, and shapes.  When you render your image, Sagelight still maintains a high speed, even with complex blurs.

Sagelight multi-processes with all of your processes for ultimate speed.

Sagelight Fast Depth of Field is amazingly fast, performing the equivalent of over a quadrillion pixel blur in just a few seconds on one processor.  This means you can work in seriously fast real-time.

When you apply the image, a depth of field blur can perform a blur of any size very quickly to the largest of images.

Powerful.  Sagelight has many tools to help create excellent depth of field and bokeh effects.  See the list of features below.  Some of these features in include a highlight mask – the traditional problem of bokeh is that the highlights get too bright very quickly, and you can’t get the other areas to bloom without overruning the highlights in brighter areas. 

With Sagelight Bokeh, you can just mark the highlight areas you want to keep, and they stay that way, allowing you to work with other areas.  See the water image below.  It was created with a highlight mask.

Other advanced features include the ability to select the reflection tone, changing the specular realism/edge/bloom, and many masking controls.


Easy.  The secret to a good depth of field & bokeh blur is the difference between the foreground and background.  Sometimes this involves masking.  Sagelight Bokeh has many tools to help you create a simple mask.  You don’t need to create very sharp and defined masks for most things with Sagelight Bokeh, and you can create a mask in just a few seconds with the inline mask editing support.

You can select and change the shape of the auto-mask so that you only need to edit your own mask on some pictures very lightly.

The above picture shows the auto-mask controls.  You can just move the ring and change the size, shape, and angle easily.

Inexpensive.  This is one of but many incredibly powerful features that come with Sagelight that also are the equivalent (or more) of retail packages out there.  The nearest comparable product sells for $200, and two other products that perform Bokeh sell for $99 each.

How can Sagelight do that (keep it cheap, that is)?  It’s my pleasure to provide Sagelight and its components cheaply, even when they meet and exceed the most expensive counterparts out there.  Bokeh is one of those packages.

Screen Shot


This is a screen shot of the Sagelight Bokeh Function Working. It shows how you can create realistic lens effects with specular distinct, and authentic-looking specular reflections.

Depth and Bokeh Effects


This example shows how you can create depth very simply (there was no mask applied, except the auto mask) as well as realistic specular reflections.  In this image, you can see the varying hexagonal shapes in the upper part of the picture, looking just as if this picture was taken directly into the sun.    Of course, these reflections were never there, but you could never tell it wasn’t in the actual picture.


Tilt-Shift Example


With Sagelight Bokeh, it’s very easy to make tilt-shift images.  In this example, all that was done was to decrease the size of the initial radius and add the blur amount.


Bokeh Release notes (Sagelight Version 4.2)

  • Very fast real-time display.  Though Bokeh, particularly, is a very intensive process, you can change the display and change the masking in realtime to get real feel for what is happening with the result.

  • Fast and High Quality Results.  Lens blur and Bokeh can be a slow process because it is very intensive.  Sagelight’s Bokeh routines are written to be as fast as possible as well as very high resolution.

  • Extremely Fast Depth of Field function.  Sagelight also has a “Fast Depth of Field” function that can be used on its own, but also within the Bokeh/Lens blur function to help increase speed. The Depth of Field function can perform a blur of effectively over a quadrillion pixels in just a few seconds — on one processor.  It’s this sort of speed that allows the visceral feedback that Sagelight is known for.

  • Graphic, interactive interface.  You can change the size, shape, and placement of the auto-mask (i.e. like a vignette) reticle by just dragging it around on the screen.  The display adjusts automatically.

  • Multiple Auto Mask Shapes.  You can choose from circle, elliptical, square, rectangular, planar, dual planar, and filled versions of each.  You can change the size, shape, and angle of the mask in realtime by grabbing the edges on the screen image.

  • User Mask and Depth Mask.  You can also use your own mask on top of the auto-shaped mask.  You can define the mask to simple block certain items to provide a depth-of-field look to your image, and to blur only selected areas.

  • Real-time Mask Editing.  You can edit your own mask from the Bokeh/Lens Blur and Fast DOF functions.  As you work with the function, you can simply edit the mask as you see more of what you’re looking for.  You don’t need to exit the function or take time to change the mask and re-enter the functions and redo the settings.

  • Photographically-oriented Aperture Shapes.  You can select from various aperture shapes, such as a circle, triangle, square, hexagon, octagon, etc., as well as filled, semi-transparent and hollow versions of each shape.  The shapes are high-resolution and designed to work best for a truly photographic representation (as opposed to cute shapes).

  • Realistic Specular Highlights Controls.  One of the trademarks of Bokeh is the ‘bloom’ on specular highlights — the specular highlights that turn into either circles or whatever the aperture shape.  Sagelight has realistic highlight controls, which can help you define the highlights in your image and make them stand out.

  • Extended Highlight Controls.  In addition to the standard Highlight Strength and Highlight Amount controls, Sagelight also has the following controls that help with the Highlights

  • Specular Edge.  This is sometimes known as the ‘bloom’ in other programs.  This basically allows the highlights, as they turn into the shape of the aperture and become larger, to become more defined or less defined.  As they become more defined, they tend to look more like an effect (which can look nice, but isn’t necessarily realistic, either), where using the control to bring the edge down can make the specular reflections look much more realistic and naturally photographic.

  • Color Edge. This control allows you to decide how your reflections look as they grow into the aperture shape.  This control allows you to move the reflections into their component color.  Instead of getting a pure white reflection from a sunset, for example, the Color Edge control allows you to move the reflections into the golden hues of the sun.  The sun peering through the grass is another example; instead of a white reflection, you can move the reflection into the green & yellows that make for a much more realistic image.

  • Highlight Clipping.  As well as the Highlight Strength, you can also clip the highlights. This allows you to establish a highlight range, avoiding too many highlights from the brighter areas, while allowing the mid-tone highlights to stand out.

  • Pre-Blur Backlight Control.  This is a powerful tool, as it allows you to make the highlights completely stand out while adding contrast to your image.  While other vignetting features are provided (see below), this performs a backlight function with a Burn algorithm that can make the image stand out and allows the highlights to come through much more defined.   It can add a dramatic dimension to your image.  Contrast this with the Vignette Controls listed below.

  • Vignette Controls.  Post-blur, you can add a vignette to the image to darken it or lighten it.  You can use one of 5 modes to get the tone you’re looking for.  The vignette follows the auto-mask vignette, so it is perform in just the right areas for the image.

  • Post Color Functions.  You can add saturation or vibrance to your image while your in the Bokeh/Lens Blur or Fast DOF functions.  This can add a lot of depth to your image, especially when combined with the Highlight Backlight Control or the vignetting controls.

  • Additionally, you can control the auto-shape mask areas and overall image independenly.  This can help focus on the subject by adding or removing color from one area, and performing the opposite in another area.

  • Highlight Mask. Another very powerful function, this allows you to create a mask for the highlights.  The problem with traditional Bokeh is that the highlights get out of control very quickly — you may see one you like, but to get it where you want it means over-highlighting other areas.  With the Highlight mask, you can simply paint the areas you want to keep where they are and then adjust other areas independenly.

  • Complete Mask Control.  Listed below are the masking controls within the Lens/Blur and Fast DOF functions

  • Edit Mask.  Edit your own mask (which you can import) and see the result immediately.  You can use the normal mask editor for this, and you can edit either the blur/depth mask or the highlight mask.

  • Load & Save Masks.  You can loads and save both mask types by saving or loading a preset.

  • Enable Mask. You can enable or disable each mask type.

  • As Selection Mask.  This is yet another powerful tool, which will be discussed in articles and the documentation.  It allows you to create Depth of Field effects without having to worry about precise edges.  It allows you to, in fact, be very imprecise with your mask without causing edges.

  • Lazy Mask.  Another Sagelight innovation, this allows you to create your depth of field blur without a mask.  You can simply put back in what you want later.  This avoids the problem of traditional blurring where the blur also blurs the area you want to avoid ruining the effects.  This allows you to very casually create a depth of field blur without creating a mask, yet it also allows you to keep the foreground areas intact.  As with the “As Selection Mask” setting, this allows you to create a very imperfect mask (i.e. quickly) while not losing the accuracy you want.

  • Clip Mask. This allows you to let the blur bleed into the image, allowing the effects from the masked areas into the non-masked areas.  This can make an image look more realistic when you’re blurring foreground items. This will also be a subject of some articles.

  • Highlight Mask Multiply Slider.  This allows you to increase or decrease the areas masked with the highlight mask.  As you make changes, this allows you to adjust these areas without re-editing the mask.

  • Distortion and Spin.  These controls allow you to distort the image, adding a surreal, zoom-like effect.  This works well with centered images.

  • Preset Support.  You can load and save presets, which will also save any masks you have in memory (they do not need to be active). Also, when you come back into the Bokeh/Lens Blur or Fast DOF functions, your last settings are restored automatically (if you’re editing the same file).

  • Window Undock.  You can undock the secondary controls window for greater access and speed in using the controls.

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