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Create dSLR-style blurred background photos on Android

Familiar with the dreamy background and focused image in the foreground that comes from high-end dSLR cameras?

We can't all be professional photographers, but we can still envy their camera hardware and trained eye. So how can you get a look similar to their awesome photos without shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it? That's exactly why apps like AfterFocus exist.

This Android app allows you to take a picture, or import one from your gallery, and then set up focus and background areas. Then you'll be able to adjust the amount of blur applied to the background, as well as adjust the aperture and apply two types of filters. This will leave you with a professional-looking photo at no cost other than your time. Let's get started:

Step 1: Grab a copy of AfterFocus for your Android.

Screenshot by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 2: Open the app and choose to take a new pic or add one from the Gallery. (The Take Two option is for the Pro version only, which is supposed to help you focus more clearly on the object in the foreground.)

Step 3: Use the Focus tool to draw on the parts of the photo you want to keep in focus.

Tip: Stay within the lines of your focused object for a cleaner edge that meets the blurred background. You can use the Zoom and Erase tools for close-ups and mistakes, respectively.

Steps 3, 4, and 5 are demonstrated here. Screenshot, photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

(Optional) Step 4: Click on the Mild tool and use it on objects you want moderately blurred into the background.

Step 5: Help the app determine what should be blurred in the background by selecting and drawing with the BG tool. After you're finished, click the blue arrow in the top right-hand corner.

Tip: Don't draw these black lines right next to the white ones in the focus area. Instead, leave 1-2 pixels in between them.

Screenshot, photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

Step 6: Adjust the blur (and aperture if you like) to make the photo look more realistic. The more blur you use, the more likely you are to see any mistakes from Steps 2, 3, and 4 stand out. If you do notice mistakes, just hit the back arrow at the top of the app and correct them.

Filter 1: Color Mask. Filter 2: Vignetting. Screenshot, photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

(Optional) Step 7: Adjust the filters for the image. Filter 1 is for color effects that apply to the entire photo, and Filter 2 is for shapes and miscellaneous effects.

Alternative filters for your photo are demonstrated here. Screenshot, photo by Nicole Cozma/CNET

After you're done editing the picture to your liking, you can save it for later or share it with apps installed on your device (the first choice on the left) or one of the preset apps. This is a fast and frugal way to add special effects that require a little bit of work to your photos. It's definitely not the same as owning a DSLR camera, but it's not a bad second choice if you're not a professional photographer.