Peering through Binoculars in Photoshop

In this week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke indulges in trying to recreate the standard (if not quite accurate) cinematic effect that indicates someone is looking through binoculars.

Of course, when you look through binoculars in real life, that iconic “filled in Venn diagram” shape isn’t precisely what you see. But, anyone who has seen the 1974 film Chinatown can attest that this is the default way “character is looking through binoculars” is represented in film. So intersecting circles it is.

So, we begin with a photo with a shallow depth of field, like this one, turned into a smart object to help later in the project.

Man and three penguins in Antarctica

And, with Deke-like precision, fill it with a pair of intersecting circles. Which are then “cut out” in Photoshop.

Photograph of man and penguins with

And there you have it. But wait, this is Deke, so, of course, we’ll need to take it the extreme. So if you’re a member of LinkedIn Learning, Deke’s got two follow up movies to help you get there.

In the first one, Deke will show you how to use layer effects to create colorful halos inside your binocular lenses.

Binocular circles with halo effect added

In the second one, Deke adds some more extreme faux binocular aberrations, to really sell the realistic version of this unrealistic trope, as you see up top. Because if you’re going to misrepresent the shape you see, you have to make the fake glass in your binoculars extremely realistic.

Deke’s Techniques, this business requires a certain amount of finesse.

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