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///Blurring Backgrounds in Lightroom

Blurring Backgrounds in Lightroom

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).

2017-07-09T12:33:22+00:00 August 1st, 2011|21 Comments


  1. Sandi August 15, 2011 at 5:55 am - Reply

    Thank you for making this!! I learned a lot

  2. Ed Law October 16, 2011 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    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

    • Laura Shoe October 17, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

      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. Nancy January 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm - Reply

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

  4. ed February 14, 2012 at 9:15 pm - Reply

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

  5. Sandra July 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm - Reply

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

  6. Sindy November 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    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. Irvin February 6, 2013 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    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. R April 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    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. Dave Utterback October 13, 2013 at 6:35 am - Reply

    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

    • Laura Shoe October 16, 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      Great to hear it, Dave!

  10. Nina Dumlao November 23, 2013 at 4:50 am - Reply

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

  11. Tiffany Ross May 27, 2016 at 5:59 am - Reply

    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. weldon burlock November 19, 2016 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    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.

    • Laura Shoe February 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      I’m happy to hear it, Weldon! Thank you for your note.

  13. nikki November 29, 2016 at 11:30 am - Reply

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

    • Laura Shoe February 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

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

      • Zhask January 4, 2018 at 6:57 pm - Reply

        Ma’am how about on ipad? I can’t erase nor blur

        • Laura Shoe January 7, 2018 at 12:46 pm - Reply

          i don’t know what you mean by erase, Zhask, but you can use negative sharpness in the brush in Lightroom on the iPad.

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