Introduction to Sagelight Bokeh & Lens Blur Video #2: Showing the Highlight Mask and More Creative Elements

Sagelight Bokeh Introduction 2



This is another video introduction to the Bokeh, Lens Blur, and Fast Depth of Field features in Sagelight Image Editor.

Where the first video focused on creating a blur area and using a mask, this video shows using the Highlight Mask and explores some of the more creative aspects of using the Sagelight Bokeh/Lens Blur function.

Photographic Authenticity vs. Freestyle & Artistic Bokeh/Lens Blur

It should be noted that the Bokeh/Lens Blur functions are very powerful and can do a wide range of effects on your image.  From a photographic perspective this means that you can keep within the realm of what is photographically realistic or go further and perform more artistic effects.

Both the first video and second video show me doing freestyle sessions with a clear intention of being more artistic.  Since the Bokeh/Lens Blur functions are very high quality, fast, and versatile, you can explore both methods.  You can create on-the-fly or import depth masks for photographic realism, or just go with your artistic sense of an image.



Editing the Mask in the Bokeh/Lens Blur

As with the first introduction video, the image is masked.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), the video I recorded of the masking ended up being corrupt and I didn’t get a chance to include it.  On the other hand, it might be just as well because this was shown in the first video, so it saved about 2 minutes on the video anyway.

The above image is the mask I created while in the Bokeh/Lens Blur.  To repeat my comments in the first video, you can edit the mask on-the-fly very quickly, editing it in a coarse overview, and then refining it as you go and see where it needs to be touched up.


Highlight Mask


Image While Editing the Highlight Mask

The real star of this video is the Highlight Mask. This is a Sagelight innovation with Bokeh and makes a real difference in your image.  It is also very easy to use the highlight mask.

As the video explains, a traditional problem with highlights & specular reflections in Bokeh is that only the upper-end highlights look good, and if you have a picture that isn’t nearly epitomical example of a Bokeh picture (streelights, or other lights in the distance in a fairly dark foreground, for example), then the highlights can easily become too white or bright and wash out very quickly.

In many cases, you really want to capture some of the highlights without having the brighter areas wash out.

That’s where the Highlight Mask comes in.  You can simply use the Highlight Strength and Highlight Threshold slider, see the highlights you like, dab them with a brush, and then they are ‘frozen’ in place.  Then you can either reset the Highlight Sliders to 0, or find other highlights with different settings.

The image above shows how it is done (the video shows much more).  You can see where I just really brushed the areas I wanted to keep.  See the video to see it working in action.


The Results: Photographic, Artistic, and Way Out There


The Original Image


The ‘Photographic’/Natural Result.



Again, I’m not really worrying about ultra-realism, but I do want something that looks a little naturally photographic. In the above image, you can see where I blurred the area by the window and slowly extended the blur down the wall to the left.  I also added highlights with the Highlight Mask function. 

I also added a transparency to her arm, which I thought looked really nice, almost like a motion blur, as if she was moving when the camera took the picture (I did this by using the ‘As Selection Mask’ setting, which blends back the original image based on the mask setting).

Overall, it has a natural look with some really nice colorful highlights.  I was able to get the highlights (and the nice colors) by using the Highlight Mask in combination with the Highlights Strength, Highlights Threshold, and Color Edge Sliders.


The Artistic Result


In the video, I then went even further and added some deep contrast and color.  I did this by using the Backlight Slider, increasing the Highlights Strength (by using the Highlight Multiply Slider in the Highlight Mask Area; this slider lets you increase or decrease the highlights you previously masked, such as in the above Highlight Mask Image), and then adding a fair amount of Saturation by using the Add Color (Vignette Only) Slider to add color only to the blurred areas, while leaving the non-blurred areas (i.e. the woman in the picture) untouched. 

I then changed the aperture shape to a diamond, for effect.  If I were to go back and work on this image, I might add just a splash of color to her face so that she blends in with the rest of the picture just a little but more smoothly (which is what I did in the next picture).

The ‘Way Out There’ Result


One of the other features that Sagelight Bokeh/Lens Blur offers that you really don’t see in other Bokeh packages is a very high radius setting on the Blur Amount Slider.  This allows you to create shapes that are very large.

There’s a lot of effects you can do with such large settings, and in this case, I just decided to simply go for an effect.

Obviously not photographically realistic, but I thought it came out nice, nevertheless.



The Bokeh/Lens Blur Video Introduction #2 video shows both the Highlight Masking and more creative aspects of the Sagelight Bokeh, Lens Blur, and Fast Depth of Field features new to Sagelight Version 4.2.

The video demonstrates how to easily use the Highlight Mask to isolate highlights very quickly, creating more photographic and artistic effects than with traditional Bokeh implementations.

The video also shows how you can use the Sagelight Bokeh/Lens Blur to go even further creatively with the separate Sagelight Saturation/Vibrance Sliders, Backlight Slider, Color Edge, and many other functions that make the Sagelight Bokeh/Lens Blur very versatile and powerful.


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