As a Photoshop engineer and an avid user of the creative software, I constantly tried to find ways to make something that would not only add new functionality to Photoshop but also make it simple and fun to use. However at the heart of these efforts were simple ideas, ideas that were fueled by my intuition and for that time being, had taken over my life. Blur Gallery is an example of this mental exercise.
As far back as I can remember, cars and all automotive inventions have been an object of my fancy, a fascination that has turned me into an amateur race driver and a religious follower of automotive news. Looking back, I suspect that beautiful car posters that covered the wall space of my adolescent room had a lot to do with it. There is something evocative about a photograph of a Lamborghini—sweeping through a scenic European landscape with a distant glow of the city lights in the background—that has always grabbed me. I would spend time analyzing what would make this beautiful photograph so appealing. In my opinion, the answer lies in tasteful editing, but of equivalent importance is the presence of naturally occurring blurs and bokeh shapes introduced by the camera. While the effect achieved from a real photograph taken via a camera rig will be more complex, I challenged myself to achieve the same effect in Photoshop using pictures from a quick photo-shoot of my car and bike. What I discovered propelled me to do Blur Gallery.
After spending many hours of painful masking, blurring and compositing, I couldn’t accomplish anything that looked impressive or believable. While I’m no professional, this is also because of the shortcomings of current workflows in Photoshop around blurring. First, existing capabilities don’t support spatially-varying blurs in a way that can be easily manipulated. Second, it’s not at all easy to combine different blurs with precise local control. Third and the most painful piece is that there is no live preview to make predictable progress. I figured, if I am having trouble with this, I’m sure many people are having the same issues. I thought to myself, “Wait a minute… if there is any software that should do this awesomely, its Photoshop!!”
Blur Gallery was accomplished after an extensive collaboration with our internal research as well as technology teams. Key contributors include Gregg Wilensky (ATL), Matthew Bice (UXD), Baljit Vijan (AIF), Mausoom Sarkar (ETG) and our QE, Michael and Meredith. In all the considerations related to workflows, we made sure we valued simplicity, approachability and ease of experimentation the highest. Consequently, Blur Gallery is the first of its kind task-based workspace that brings all the new tools in an appetizing screen-full bite. This new space makes it very easy to combine and manipulate effects directly on the screen. The ability to do on-canvas editing not only makes the workflow feel modern, but also more tactile and playful. However, the prerequisite for playfulness is interactivity and we achieved it by investing in OpenCL acceleration. Underneath all the innovative experience design, we also have a powerful technology: parametric masks to control the spatially varying blur patterns and physically based bokeh effects with creative controls that are not otherwise possible in camera.
With Blur Gallery, a first version of a new paradigm, we experimented with blurs related to camera-lens. Adobe is currently working on various motion-related blurs that are present in automobile photography and I’m super excited for when it will release. These new blurs will add even more realism and beauty to your photos while keeping the entire user experience playful, productive and creative. Adobe is also eager to gather feedback on Blur Gallery to make it even better.
Editor’s Note: After completing his work on Photoshop CS6, Chintan Intwala began pursuing an MBA at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. We thank him for his hard work on the Photoshop team and wish him the best at b-school