I have reviewed a few different image editing apps on this site over the last year or so. All have one thing in common, they are simple, cheap, easy to use and allow novice level users achieve results comparable to those found in Photoshop. Today’s app is called Focus. It is an imaging editing app designed to do one thing, adjust and add blurring to images, it should probably be called Un-Focus. It allows you to take an image, add a level of blur to the background and admire the results as the new images have more depth and the foreground portion of the image looks sharper.
Adjusting The Focus
Like many apps, you have come to expect a simple work flow, Focus makes know exception. You add an image to the add, using a simple drag and drop. Crop the image and adjust the horizon as needed. Then add a blur mask to adjust the level of blur in the background, finally you can quickly adjust the saturation of the image to make the colours of the image more vivid.
Each section of the app, is simple to follow. The image below shows the crop and horizon adjustment screen. You can use the overlay to use the rule of thirds to position the image to get a good composition.
If you have a track pad that supports it, the app allows you to interact with your image using multi-touch gestures. For example you can use a two finger pinch to zoom in and out of the image while you are adjusting the position, you can also rotate and move the image, using you two fingers. A simple feature, yet makes using the app that much easier. Really impressed me.
When you have positioned the image you can add the blur to the image, this is akin to adjusting the focus. If you blur the background, or foreground, of an image the focus of the image changes. This can highlight details of the image, especially foreground objects.
The level of blur is done with a mask, you paint with the brush a layer of red of the image. The red parts of the image will stay at the same focus of the original image. Anything that isn’t red will undergo blurring. The app is smart in that you paint an outline and then when you use the brush again to fill in the remaining space, it won’t go over the edge until you venture to far over the edge you have created. This allows you to use a small brush for the outline, then a big brush to fill in the remaining part of the image.
The final step is to add the blur, and adjust the colours. The sliders on the right of the app allow you to change the settings to achieve the perfect image. When you have finished you can export the image to your hard drive, iPhoto or allow you to email it.
One of the cool features of this app it the pre built settings. Along the bottom of the app is a variety of blur effects for images such as portraits, buildings, macro shots and my favourite tilt-shift. Tilt-shift allows you manipulate an image in way that makes you perceive it as if it was a miniature environment. This allows you to take an image of a city, apply the tilt-shifting and the resulting image will look like a miniature model. Its a unique effect that has some popularity.
The tilt shift option on the app makes this easy. You can adjust the centre of focus and the level of blurring with the slider, again, multi touch gestures come into play here. It doesn’t work on every image but if you have the right image, it can bring out a whole new dimension.
The level of blur and the vividness of the image can be adjusted to suit each individual image. Although the vividness setting is simple, it does make most images look a lot better and stand out.
This app does have some good features. It allows anyone to adjust there images and focus in on a key subject in a photo by blurring out unneeded background elements. It is simple to use and as long as the initial photo is semi decent the final results do look very good.
When you initally start the app there is a very good introduction video / tutorial that should you how to use the app. It immediately tells you how to use the app, so there is no need to read the manual. There is also a handy overlay when you adjust your first image, telling you of the many features. A very good way to learning how the app works.
There is one problem that I have identified, this is the lack of an eraser tool when you apply the custom focus. Although you can remove your previous mistake with the undo command, if you want to remove large portions of the red mask you have to start again. It is quite annoying if you apply a mask to a large part of the image, and you realise you want to remove a small part but have to start again. A small problem but one I would like to see fixed in the later versions of the app.
Edit: You can paint with the normal brush bu pressing the option key, it does say this in the sidebar, however, I did find the mean a little cryptic.
If you have any questions or comments about this app, please use the comment form below.