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Tips & Tricks

Learn To ‘Fake Using A Very Expensive Lens’ With Serge Ramelli & Photoshop

By Kishore Sawh on May 27th 2014


Is your blog or Instagram looking a bit tired? A bit boring? A bitlocal? Need something a bit new, that looks like you’re somewhere a bit unusual like atop the Empire State Building or Eiffel Tower even though you’re reading this from Wisconsin? No worries. Have Photoshop – will travel.

Sort of.

Making it seem as though your photo was taken somewhere it wasn’t is only part of what you’re about to see here. The other part is making your images seem as if they weren’t just taken somewhere atypical, but also with a beautiful-bokeh inducing lens, which you may not have, or may not have on you.

[REWIND: Sharpening | So Many Get It Wrong & This Will Help You Get It Right]


At its core, this video tutorial is really a fine example of how specialty filters in Photoshop can make a mountain out of a molehill. Serge Ramelli is a French photographer with some serious Photoshop aptitude, and in this video he will teach you how to ‘Fake using a very expensive lens’ using only Photoshop. Really, it’s a highlight of how simple and practical Photoshop’s Field Blur, and bokeh effects are. In the example he composites, rather quickly, a photo of his nephew and a background photo of an aerial city shot, which has the effect applied.



While I find his title a little misleading, I see his point, and where this can be useful. I’m rather adept at Photoshop myself, and had known of this filter option since it became an offering, yet I dismissed it because in my experience, these things just always look artificial. Bokeh production from different lenses to me is something that is so rarely done well in post, if ever. Having now tried it myself, I’m somewhat eating my own words because the bokeh effects sliders give a user much more control that I would’ve expected.

As Serge mentions in the video, it works best with smaller lights, and having tried lights of all sizes, I’ve come to the same conclusion. Interestingly, if your photo already has some round-light bokeh of the larger variety, the ‘Light Range’ slider has the strange ability to render their edges as having many small lights. It’s weird, but I’m sure someone can find use for it.

Where as Ramelli creates a composite of two different images, I can see this could also be used for layering in a single photo. If you have a photo with a subject in the foreground and you’d like the have a nice blur with bokeh balls in the background, a very similar technique will apply. Check it out.

Ramelli has a good sense of humor and the good sense to explain his actions well. As such there’s lots more to be learned from Serge at his YouTube channel, which you’d do well to visit.

Source: Serge Ramelli YouTube

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Nice one

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  2. J. Cassario

    Great write up Kish, gonna watch this in a little bit. I’ve never bothered with this filter myself for the same reasons, but you have me curious now.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Cheers J, yeah I just stumbled upon it because if his title had said anything about making bokeh in photoshop I’d have skipped. It is pretty impressive how Photoshop manages to render the bokeh so well…even to the level of transparency.

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