Aug 012011

I posted this tip a little over a year ago when Lightroom 3 came out, but I thought I’d post it again, since surprisingly it is one of my most-read posts.

Looking to blur out a background to reduce distractions?  In Lightroom 3 or later, use the adjustment brush with Sharpness at -50 to -100.   If this is not enough blur, do it again:  click on New to start a new adjustment, and paint a second time.    If you blur out an object that you want to keep sharp, use the adjustment brush and paint back over the object with +100 Sharpness to restore its sharpness!

Also consider using the graduated filter with -100 Sharpness to simulate a shallower depth of field where the sharpness drops off gradually.

If you don’t know how to use the adjustment brush, here is an old video on it (that for better or worse requires that you have flash to play it).  It is a sample video from my Lightroom 3 DVD, but everything covered is also applicable to Lightroom 4, 5, 6 and CC (these newer versions of Lightroom do have additional features in the adjustment brush).

The adjustment brush, graduated filter and radial filter are covered in-depth in my Lightroom CC/6 and 5: The Fundamentals & Beyond video series (and earlier versions).


  19 Responses to “Blurring Backgrounds in Lightroom”

  1. Thank you for making this!! I learned a lot

  2. Laura, your serving as monitor on the Adobe series is invaluable along with the tips, suggestions and tutorials.

    I am 87, one year experience 74 times through two wars and a wonderful career. Starting with a wet darkroom with taking, developing, printing and enlarging in a cardboard enclosure in our garage at age 13. Upgraded to LR 3, CS 5, NIK and onONe bundles.

    Thank you!! ♡♡♡

    Stop learning, stop living

    • Thanks for the note, Ed! And thank you to you for your contributions on the Adobe site. I am happy to know a bit about you now. I love your story and admire you greatly. I hope that I am as technologically adept and still so involved and learning at 87!

      I hope you enjoy the video series you purchased… let me know how it goes.

  3. Helpful, thanks. I bought your video but just haven’t had time to look at it, so these mini tutorials are great.

  4. Thanks a lot. The blurred background is a desirable look, and I didn’t think to try this.

  5. Thank you so much for this tutorial. You move at a good pace and your instructions are helpful and easy to understand.

  6. I. LOVE. THIS!!
    I’ve had lightroom 3for a few months now, but have jumped in and just started using it umm, intuitively.. just the basic stuff with exposure etc, sharpening, the filter presets. I’ve got some great images even with just that basic use.

    I knew it had much greater potential than how I had been using it. There is SO much to learn. & it’s really exciting. I’m gonna make some awesome stuff – thanks!!

  7. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  8. Thanks a lot for giving us some of your time to teach us this. I was constantly switching from LR and PS, but not anymore thanks to you!!


  9. I learned more about Lightroom in the first 3-4 minutes of this video regarding using the brush tool than I did over the course of a one-evening-per-week, multi-week class. WOW! Thanks a million!!

    Dave Utterback

  10. I’m just beginning to use Lightroom and this tutorial is really great! Simple and clear for a newbie like me. Thanks!!

  11. I just shot my first wedding and am a beginner to Lightroom and really found this video useful when having to blur out backgrounds and clear up blemishes. Thank you!

  12. Laura. Your site is my “go to” Lightroom. Like Ed. of Oct 16, 2011 I am 82 and can’t stop learning. Your teachings and instructions are very digestible.

  13. how can i blurr using lightroom cc i cant figure it out

    • The same way I mention in this article, Nikki – with the adjustment brush, graduated filter (or the radial filter).

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