Blur Tools

Photoshop CS6 can now make use of OpenCL technology to speed up certain aspects of Photoshop's graphics processing. The new accelerated graphics processing has allowed for a new set of Blur Tools filters. These customizable Field, Iris and Tilt-Shift blur effects offer incredibly fast and accurate previews compared to the older Lens Blur filter.

The Blur Tools filters may not have the same range of slider controls as the Lens Blur, but even so, they do provide a lot of flexible user control. For example, using the Tilt-Shift Blur and associated Distortion slider control, it is now possible to create Lens Baby style blur effects at the post-capture stage.

Roof top view of San Francisco at night.
Here I used the new Radial Blur filter effect to apply a radial blur, centered around the Macy's store building. In Photoshop CS6 one can easily and quickly adjust such blur effects in real time by dragging the radial blur handles and adjusting the Blur Tools and Blur Effects panels (see below).
This shows the settings that were used to create the radial blur effect shown in the above example. Compared to the lens Blur filter, these appear quite basic, but there is a lot you can do by playing around with the Light Bokeh and Light Range sliders, not to mention the on-image adjustments that can be made to alter the Iris Blur size, shape and blur transitions.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply these blur filters to smart object layers. One could conceivably use smart filters to apply Blur Tools filter effects as a smart object to a video clip layer and thereby achieve the miniaturisation effect that is so popular in time-lapse videos these days.

In the example below I replaced the Iris Blur with a Tilt-Shift blur effect using more or less the same panel settings as shown in the previous image.

With the Tilt-Shift blur you have the ability to adjust a Distortion slider, which allows you to control the circumferential/directional distortion of the blurred areas. The addition of a distortion control is what makes this particular filter stand out and can allow you to create realistic-looking blurred lens shots, similar in effect to when a camera lens is tilted on it's lens axis.