Do you know the secret to creating photos that people love?

Photoshop Elements has a cool filter called the Radial Blur.  Have you ever played with it?

radial blur

Radial Blur adds two types of blurs to your photo.  The method above is the Zoom option – it looks as if you are zooming into a certain point on your object.

The spin blur is illustrated in the image below.  It can make you a bit dizzy.  In the photo of my girls below, to me it illustrates the feeling of life rushing by on the street as they sat there soaking it all in.

radial blur whirl

Adding the filter and refining it are both easy.  It’s a pixel type edit, so you’ll need to duplicate your background layer to begin with.  Then, go to Filter/Blur/Radial Blur.

radial blur access

I used an amount of 10 for both images above – you don’t need much.  Use Blur Method to choose between the Spin and Zoom types of blur.  For Quality, good is usually fine.  Best is very slow but might be helpful if you are working on an enlargement or portfolio piece.

radial blur settingsThe cool thing about the Radial Blur settings is that you can click and drag the center of the blur using the Blur Center Box.  Just click inside and drag the center to the point on your image that you’d like the blur to originate from.

Because you created this blur on a separate layer, you can reduce the layer’s opacity if the effect is too strong.  I used 84% opacity in my top image, and 54% in the 2nd.

Finally, I added layer masks to each blur layer to adjust where the blur fell.  In the first image, I wanted her eye to be completely in focus, so I painted with a soft round black brush just over her eye.

For the photo of my girls, I masked them out with a full opacity black soft brush.  And then I reduced the brush opacity to 50% to mask out the grass in the foreground.  The lower opacity brush is represented by the lighter red in this screen shot:

radial blur mask

The radial blur in Photoshop Elements is definitely a special effect – special in that it’s not appropriate for all photos.  It can contribute to the storytelling aspect of a photo or change its mood, however.  Is it something that YOU would ever use?

If you’d like more information about using Photoshop Elements to its full potential, check out my online workshop.