Using FocalPoint for Sports Photography Pop

Mostly every Friday, onOne Software does these webinars called The onOne Clinic. It's a chance for people to ask random questions about their software or photography, and to send in images to be used as examples.  My friend, Brian Matiash, is the one doing the clinics, and offered to help me with the following question:

How, in a sports photo, can you selectively blur the background using FocalPoint so the person in the front pops more?

The information in this post is coming from him, but I thought it was useful and helpful enough to write up. This is not the image he helped me with, this is another image I decided to try the technique on.

Last year, through Mike's Camera, I got a chance to shoot the Denver Broncos practice (more information on that is here).  This photo always looked kind of flat to me, and using Photoshop and FocalPoint, I was able to pop it a bit more. 

Here is the original:


I just want to blur out everything besides Tebow a little bit more.  Apparently FocalPoint has the benefit of just affecting a selection that you make in Photoshop.  So, taking this photo into Photoshop, I can use the Quick Selection tool to do a pretty decent selection of Tebow.

The selection can be refined as much as you want it to, but I think this is pretty good.  One thing I need to do before bringing this into Focalpoint is to inverse the selection, because Focalpoint works on everything selected (and keeps in focus everything not selected).  Going to Select->Inverse will do this for me.

Inside of FocalPoint, there are a couple things I can do. First, I'm going to change the FocusBug to be planar instead of round, and make it vertical over the player.  Note that everything except the player is affected by the blur.    I made the blur extremely high, just for demonstration purposes, but look between Tebow's feet in the screenshot below:

The grass is still in focus, because that's within the plane of the FocusBug.  There are a couple of options I have to get that blurred.  1) I can use a mask and paint in blur just in those areas.  The problem with that is making sure it looks natural, and that I don't accidentally paint on Tebow. 2) I could change the width of the FocusBug to 0.  This not only still keeps Tebow completely in focus, but everything else will be out of focus.  As that is the easier option, that's the one I'm going to do.

Again, keep in mind the blur is very high for demonstration purposes, but when I change the width to 0 on the FocusBug, I'm left with:

Now all that remains is to get the focus blur the way I want it, and also drop the brightness and up the contrast a bit (still within FocalPoint), just to get a little extra pop on Tebow.  Once I apply my options, the final photo looks like:

Re-edit Using FocalPoint for background blur

And here's before and after: