This zoom effect how-to works in most versions of Photoshop.
Open a photo in Photoshop and choose the elliptical marquee tool from the toolbox.
Make a selection on the photo, as shown in Figure 1.
Tip: Hold the space bar to reposition the selection as you are drawing it.
Now feather the selection. In Photoshop CS3 and CS4, that’s Select > Modify > Feather. In previous version, go to Select > Feather.
It’s important to feather because if you don’t, the effect will be too harsh and obvious. The feather creates a soft edge and a smooth transition to the blurred areas.
Depending on the resolution of you image, you may want to change the size of the feather. Because my image is low-res, I used 15 (Figure 2).
Right now you have a selection around the center of the image. However, you want to select everything but the center.
Choose Select > Inverse or Ctrl-Shift-I (Cmd-Shift-I on the Mac). You should see the selection go around the edge of your canvas (Figure 3).
This is where the effect happens.
Choose Filter > Blur > Radial Blur. Choose Zoom as the Blur Method. Select Good for quality — Best takes forever and gives you little improvement in quality.
Choose your amount to suit. For a heavier blur use 100. You might have to test it and undo a few times to find out what looks best on your image. I used 55 (Figure 4).
Figure 5 shows the final result.
Changing the feather and the blur amount will change the effect. Experiment with different selection shapes and different blur amounts. In some cases you may want to apply the blur more than once.
Note to advanced users: I used the above method to keep this tutorial very simple. However, you can also create a smart object, run a smart filter, and then mask the filter. That method doesn’t increase the file size, and you can use a raw file.
As I mentioned in the beginning, you can also create the zoom effect in-camera. Figure 6 is an example of that.
I used a slower shutter speed and pulled the lens in as I took the shot. Start moving th lens before clicking the shutter, this way you will get a smoother movement.