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Create Sharper Focus Through Blurry Photos
by Rick Altman

I've spoken before about the issue of contrast and about how too much in a photo can actually detract from your message in a presentation. If you find yourself questioning whether a photo is too distinct, keep in mind the many options open to you.

Figure One shows a nice forest-like scene being used as a backdrop for a presentation on working on a Go Green initiative. It's a perfectly fine scene and there is good integration of photo to type. I do not find anything wrong with this image but that is not to say that you couldn't improve it, and one possible way is to simply add blur to the photo.

There isn't an image editor out there today that doesn't offer a Guassian Blur command in its suite of special effects tools and working it is a cinch. Figure Two shows the result of a 10-pixel blur added to the photo. Blurring the photo a bit brings more definition to the type—sharpness by comparison. Figure Three is a 20-pixel blur, and Figure Four is double that—so much blur that you can barely make out the scene.

There is no one best practice here, but knowing this simple option of fuzzing out a photo can make you a more capable and flexible slide designer and message crafter. You can view my PowerPoint version of this here.

Rick Altman is the host of the PowerPoint Live User Conference. It covers the whole of the presentation community—message, slide design, software technique, and delivery—and limits enrollment to 250. Complete details are available at
Other PowerPoint Articles
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Filling Shapes with Photos
The Perils of Postage Stamps
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