I bought my first digital SLR camera with a 50 mm lens. This lens creates a beautiful blurry backgrounds (bokeh) when making portraits. Unfortunately, with my iPhone 6s it is not possible to photograph portraits with blurred backgrounds. However, it can be done with the iPhone app for blurring the background FabFocus and the photo editing app Snapseed.
- The iPhone Portrait Mode
- The iPhone app FabFocus for blurring the background
- Blur the background with Snapseed
- Video Selective blur with Lens Blur
iPhone Portrait Mode
Apple has, with the arrival of the iPhone 7 plus, given a lot of attention to photographing portraits with blurred backgrounds. The examples I’ve seen looked good and I think many people will decide to leave the “real cameras” more often at home. In the Portrait Mode of the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus and iPhone X, Apple blurs the background with a combination of a dual camera and software. Google has succeeded with the Pixel 2 to achieve a similar result with a single camera and a software solution. That is why I have looked at whether it is possible to make portraits with blurred backgrounds on an iPhone with a single camera using an app.
The iPhone app FabFocus for blurring the background
I downloaded and tested a number of apps for blurring the background from the App Store. Ultimately, I was most satisfied with the results of FabFocus. The blurry background I found the most realistic compared to the other apps and the software can automatically select the subject. In most cases the result is not flawless but correcting the selected area is very easy.
How blurring the background works
You can take a picture with the app or import one. The app then automatically starts the editing process and searches for faces.
To correct the automatically selected area, tap edit. The selection is then displayed in green. You can expand the selected area with the pencil or reduce it with the eraser. The size of the pencil and the eraser are adjustable. To reduce the size of the selected area, tap with the eraser in the background and swipe with your finger. You can expand it by tapping with the pencil on the selection. Zoom in by tapping twice on the screen.
After you have adjusted the selection, tap the checkmark and the changes will be applied. If you tap on the sliders at the top right of the screen, you get a screen where you can select the shape of the blur and the amount. Tap on advanced for other settings, such as the resolution. It is fun to experiment with these settings and view the result.
Background blurring only for faces
The app FabFocus only works with faces. For other subjects you can try to create a blurred background by shooting with the iPhone Camera app. Get as close as possible to your subject with the background as far away as possible.
Blur the background with Snapseed
Snapseed is a popular and free photo editing app from Google. With Snapseed you can blur the backgrounds of portraits and other objects.
- In Snapseed go to Tools / Lens Blur.
- Tap Elliptical to switch to Linear.
- Swipe with your finger up or down to select Blur Strenght, Transition or Vignette Strenght. Swipe to the left or right to enlarge or reduce the amount.
- Drag the blue dot in the middle of the screen all the way down with your finger and apply the changes.
- Then tap on the arrow at the top right of the screen and go to “View edits”.
- Tap Lens Blur and select the brush.
- Select the background by swiping it with your finger. You can zoom on the screen with two fingers to shrink the brush and work more accurately.
- Apply the changes and you are done.
Video Selective blur with Lens Blur
Both apps are easy to use and give good results. In FabFocus you can also adjust the shape of the blur, but unfortunately blurring the background only works for portraits. Snapseed is a photo editing app, so you can also apply other edits and filters. In Snapseed you can blur the backgrounds of
portraits and other objects.