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Old 06-12-2010   #21
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Hi Ed,

How nice to meet you here.

I have been a long time user, more than 35 years, of SF filters (and I owned about 18 of them) and for a short time the Minolta soft focus lens, but I am currently using the NIK software for about half a year. This works great and has mad me forget everything I owned. Selectively applied to the image it has opened quite a new world for me.
It works with an effect formerly created by the Carl Zeiss Softars. I owned # 1, 2 and 3 and they were wonderful, but this software is almost similar to these Softars, but it allows me to use it strong where needed and minimal where it should be.
I never met any software that could accomplish an effect that was that simillar to the Softars. It is named "Classical Soft Focus effects" and it bears its name proudly.

Moreover, there is another SF tool in this bundle, the "Dynamic skin softener" that brings something special. It surpresses wrinkles, freckles etc. and brings a little SF effect in a selected area, based on the colour tones of the skin and it workes pretty well. It doesnot influence the other colours like the eyes or the lips. Carefully applied it doesnot produce those develish ultrasharp eyes we see too much these days.

I am converted to this software, although I still used my Softars until December this year. I never touched them since.
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Old 06-12-2010   #22
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Hi Leenk! Thank you for the feedback and the valuable information.

I still use my Softars, some home made filters and mostly my prime soft focus lenses. I like to see the exact image effect I am getting right at the camera. That, and a bit if judiciously applied retouching usually gets me what I want.

Like everything else in photography, electronic and digital imaging is taking over every aspect of the work and what I do in my studio is no exception. I do use the various software designed for image softening and I must say I am impressed. Perhaps it is a matter of my lacking some post production skills that I have not been able to produce EXACTLY what I want on the computer as well as I can in the camera. In all cases, however, the proper lighting for soft focus effect has to be done in order that the resulting image has that romantic touch as opposed to just a mushy image.

Someday soon, what with the dearth of film types still on the market, my studio will be all digital so I have to do my homework and become a better electronic retoucher or bring in an expert to look after that part of production.

I am pleased that you brought this up as I have little mention of theses digital methods in my original article.

Thanks again and welcome to the Camel- I hope you will be posting often.

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Old 06-17-2010   #23
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

I've only played with soft focus via software once, but based on what I learned, its hard to gauge what is too much vs not enough and also how to best apply this technique to specific photos. Also, there is a huge difference between skin softening vs the complete photo being softened for that very specific feel that makes the shot look like a true retro look to it.

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Old 06-17-2010   #24
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Yes! Really good soft focus photography is not easy to apply and execute in all cases. You need the subject matter, the know-how as to lens usage or post production techniques and the lighting that works best with soft ficus images.

On the other hand, I have used soft effects in non traditional ways and have come up with some surprisingly pleasing results and good customer approvial and acceptance.

One would think that most men are not good material for soft focus work but when I am looking for a true RETRO/HOLLYWOOD look, it works fine. It is great for wedding and engagement couples when nostalgic or romantic effects are desired.

My favorite prime soft focus lens is the Imagon. I have 3 of them for different formats! I love the instruction sheets that are packed with theses lenses. They kinda tell you that the lens is like an artist's brush and they really ain't gonna tell you exactly how to use it. There are endless combinations of using the grids that are supplied with the lens with and without using the built in aperture as well. As the lens is stopped down it gets more and more sharp so the effects obtainable with theses things are only limited by the photographer's willingness to experiment and test and by his or her own creativity and imagination.

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Old 06-17-2010   #25
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by leenk View Post
I am currently using the NIK software for about half a year. This works great and has mad me forget everything I owned. Selectively applied to the image it has opened quite a new world for me.

Moreover, there is another SF tool in this bundle, the "Dynamic skin softener" that brings something special. It surpresses wrinkles, freckles etc. and brings a little SF effect in a selected area, based on the colour tones of the skin and it workes pretty well. It doesnot influence the other colours like the eyes or the lips. Carefully applied it doesnot produce those develish ultrasharp eyes we see too much these days.

I am converted to this software, although I still used my Softars until December this year. I never touched them since.
I use many NiK plugins too. Don't forget the "Glamour Glow" feature which produces a soft image too. When I use the Dynamic Skin Softener, I always apply it with a brush rather than to the entire image.
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Old 06-17-2010   #26
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

I don't like the Glamour Glow; it influences the exposure in a way I don't like.
You wrote you applied your Skin Softener with a brush, I do applie it on the whole image and brush (often partly) it away the eraser. The result will in the end be the same, I suppose.
I suppose you have the version #1 of this software, (I do have both) as I don't know how to apply it with a brush in this new version.
There is a considerable difference in the way these versions work; # 2 works often much more subtile and a lot of filters have been improved considerably.
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Old 06-17-2010   #27
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by leenk View Post
I don't like the Glamour Glow; it influences the exposure in a way I don't like.
You wrote you applied your Skin Softener with a brush, I do applie it on the whole image and brush (often partly) it away the eraser. The result will in the end be the same, I suppose.
I suppose you have the version #1 of this software, (I do have both) as I don't know how to apply it with a brush in this new version.
There is a considerable difference in the way these versions work; # 2 works often much more subtile and a lot of filters have been improved considerably.
I never use Glamour Glow. The reason that I only use the brush for Skin Softener is that I don't want it affecting hair or eyes.

I have NiK Color Efex Pro 3.0, NiK Sharpener Pro, and Viveza.
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Old 06-18-2010   #28
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

You have some very nice images on your website, especially the ones of cats.

I do use the 3.0 version too, I am sorry for the mistake i made by mentioning #2.

You said you use the brush for Skin Softener that you don't want it to affect hair or eyes.
But that is impossible; it doesnot because it works just only on selected colours. You can set the width of the colour range you chose by means of moving the colour slider to set it wider or smaller. No other colour -like the eyes or hair- is affected. This way it might save you quite some time by using it over the whole image.
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Old 06-18-2010   #29
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

Quote:
Originally Posted by leenk View Post
You have some very nice images on your website, especially the ones of cats.

You said you use the brush for Skin Softener that you don't want it to affect hair or eyes.
But that is impossible; it doesnot because it works just only on selected colours.
Thanks about my cat photos! I really enjoy doing those!

In "theory" the hair and eyes would not be affected by using the Dynamic Skin Softener overall without brushing. But here are a series of images which show that in practice, everything is affected when the overall DSkin is used. Look closely at the hair at the beginning of the part, below the hair clip, you can see how it loses definition and is blurred. The same is true for the whole image.

The first image is with nothing done. The second is with DSkin applied overall. The third is with DSkin brushed only onto the skin, not the eyes or the hair. The last as the third, but with sharpening brushed onto the eyes, ear, end of nose, mouth and fork.

Before



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Old 06-19-2010   #30
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Default Re: Soft Focus Photography

The difference in the hair is hardly noticable on this size, but I guess it will be on full size images.
That is when I would use an eraser, so in the end we will end up with the same image,
We just take different paths to accomplish this.

Leen


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