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Old 05-06-2011   #11
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

Pete, most of what is done in the way of soft-focus these days is done in post process. It is hard to judge the quality of the various post process filters/techniques that are used to accomplish this when you are looking at the small jpg renditions that we see on the web. What you and Bob have posted look great at the size they are presented.
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Old 05-06-2011   #12
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

Thanks guys for the replys to my pic. I did all editing in Camera Raw to the RAW file, so I think it is still pretty good quality. I do think I had the ISO set a little too high. I'm not sure what this pic would look like printed. I'm thinking about printing it an 8x10, so I don't think it will look any different than what's displayed on my computer.
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Old 05-06-2011   #13
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

this made me think on some advice i got years ago from a photographer back in the film days, she said she often just breathed on the lens and waited for the mist to fade....gave a nice sf effect.
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Old 05-06-2011   #14
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

I once had a soft focus filter that was made by sandwiching black tulle between two pieces of glass. The diffusion was less than nylon hose but the light loss wasn't as much either.

The success of using soft focus really requires more than just slapping a diffusion device on a lens, or dialing in an intensity on a lens, or throwing some Gaussian blur in during processing. Especially for skin smoothing in portraits, lighting really plays an important role. Wrinkles and blemishes stand out by way of shadows. Soft focus portraits really gain a lot, in many cases, from less dramatic light ratios to flat lighting. Getting that misty foggy glow in landscapes is more flattering when the scene is side lit, or is diffused to some degree by nature.

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Old 05-06-2011   #15
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rense View Post
But the feeling is there!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kellycat View Post
Pete, most of what is done in the way of soft-focus these days is done in post process. It is hard to judge the quality of the various post process filters/techniques that are used to accomplish this when you are looking at the small jpg renditions that we see on the web. What you and Bob have posted look great at the size they are presented.
Thanks gentlemen . I believe that the problem with the p&s is that the lens is recessed into the housing which keeps the nylon stocking too far from the lens.
Have a nice vacation Kellycat
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Old 05-06-2011   #16
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

As Rense pointed me to this thread, I might as well post a picture.


Pinhole orchard by andrejan, on Flickr

Taken with a Lensbaby lens with pinhole "optics". Lensbaby might be a cheap alternative to the soft focus lenses Rense mentioned. They have a soft focus lens in their product line, and an option to create your DIY aperture.

Andre
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Old 05-06-2011   #17
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Originally Posted by Songman45 View Post
I once had a soft focus filter that was made by sandwiching black tulle between two pieces of glass. The diffusion was less than nylon hose but the light loss wasn't as much either.

The success of using soft focus really requires more than just slapping a diffusion device on a lens, or dialing in an intensity on a lens, or throwing some Gaussian blur in during processing. Especially for skin smoothing in portraits, lighting really plays an important role. Wrinkles and blemishes stand out by way of shadows. Soft focus portraits really gain a lot, in many cases, from less dramatic light ratios to flat lighting. Getting that misty foggy glow in landscapes is more flattering when the scene is side lit, or is diffused to some degree by nature.

Steve
Hi. I'm not trying to contradict anything, I'm just wondering, but in this, Ed Shapiro is the master, doesn't he say that Soft focus is better achieved through hard light? I may be wrong. I'm going to re-read it and make sure. I just thought I remembered reading that. Maybe I'm just not reading something right, which could very easily be the case.
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Old 05-06-2011   #18
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

Ok, I found it. If I'm getting something mixed up let me know.

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Originally Posted by Ed Shapiro View Post
...I am into soft focus lenses for the retro and theatrical looks. The basic lighting for this kind of photography is rather hard lighting. The hard lighting creates a sufficient degree of specular and diffuse highlights to enable the aforementioned glowing effect. I have adapted old Imagon and other such lenses first to my medium format cameras and now to my DSLRs. I do quite a bit of analog black and white on with theses lenses but I also like soft colors as well- reminiscent of the old color film and hand tinting.
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Old 05-07-2011   #19
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

I've sent a pm to Ed, his is the one to look for answering these questions.
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Old 05-07-2011   #20
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Default Re: The Great soft focus thread

Hi Folks!

Prime soft focus lenses as well as some supplementary soft focus filters achieve their effects by producing a secondary image caused by bleeding the highlights into the shadows. If the effect is overly exaggerated, as an example; if you were to photograph a bride and groom out-of-doors or in a studio you would notice the the groom's white shirt will bleed onto his black tuxedo. Under soft ;lighting this effect may not be all that noticeable and even with a good soft focus lens or filter, the effect may be somewhat diminished and only tend to degrade the image rather than producing the desired GLOW.

Many years ago, when I first got into soft focus photography, I purchased my first Imagon lens and was immediately disappointed as the results were not nearly what I had expected. I used my old faithful tried and true ceiling bounce fill light at an umbrella main light at between 35 and 45 degrees. I noticed that things only improved (glowed) were in the areas where the hair light and kicker light was introduced into the setup. I then removed the umbrella from my main light and replaced it with a 16" aluminum reflector, feathered the light and used kicker when ever I could. The differences were night and day.

More contrasty lighting ratios are required as well because most kinds of soft focus lenses tend to produce negatives or files at lesser that normal contrast. In the old film/analog work, it was not unusual to require paper grades up to two more grades than normal or use a condenser enlarger to restore the contrast. With "harsher" light and a bit of PhotoShop work this problem can be routinely dealt with.

I have used or experimented all kinds of alternative methods and various filters over the years. The best results are achieved with prime soft focus lenses such as the Imagon, Mamiya SF150 for the RZ67 and there is one for the 6X4.5 Mamiyaflex film cameras which can be digitized. Canon makes a 135mm soft focus for their DSLRs and there are a few Minolta soft focus lenses still around on the used market that will probably fit on current Sony models. Soft focus filters that will create a similar effect to the aforementioned primes are Zeiss Softars and theses are very expensive- they come in 3 strengths. There was one made of Rollei, the Rolleisoft which have concentric circles etched into the glass- theses yield more diffusion at wider f/stops and virtually no diffusion at smaller ones. The Imagons, the Mamiyas operate on a grid system that vary the exposure and the degree of soft focus. Some of the others have floating elements which are set by the photographer for various degrees of softness.

Generally speaking the rule is hard light+ soft focus lens and soft light with very sharp lenses. Kicker lights are msot effective because their angle of incidents is greater than lights that are placed less than 135 degrees from the camera/subject axis. Remember that light comming in form grater angles of incidence will appearer stronger than ones placed at lesser angles even of both lights are equidistant to the subject and at the same power output. The angle of incidence is equal to the the angle of reflection. Because of this, the kickers may need to be reduced in power or increased in distance in order NOT to get blown out highlights on top of the bleeding of the highlights- this may cause much difficulty in printing if no corrections are made in advance before the shoot.

VASELINE? NEVER GO NEAR THE STUFF! If that gets on you lens by accident, you will never get it off. The only thing that may dissolve it is aether and that can also dissolve the cement that holds the front element in place as well as any information engraved on the front retaining ring or trim. I don't even know where you can find that stuff- anymore, it is no longer carried by medical suppliers and uf you get some- don-t go sniffing it ! I apply clear nail polish on the edges of a skylight filter- I sacrifice a good filter and get great results- the same or better that the Vaseline and there is no chance of smearing that stuff on anything including the clear spot you need to leave clear. Again, with this type of improvised filter larger apertures are needed for them to work properly.

BLACK NET MATERIAL AND NYLON HOSIERY- Black net will gently soften the image without out much noticeable bleeding.
Harrison & Harrison and Tiffen produce a series of those filters with the netting between glass elements and they work OK but are very expensive. A few yards of black netting of different gages will cost only a few dollars for a lifetime supply. I just place them around a lens share lens shade and secure them with an elastic band.

In the production of the feature film "Fiddler on the Roof" the director pf photography was trying for that old world kinda sepia and soft look without going to a monochromatic tint. He went to Tiffen, Harrison, and others and no body could think of anything that would accommodate the vision of the DOP. Next, the search for the materials led to the laddie's department of the local departments stores. Many were purchased and tested. they were stretched this material over the matte-boxes of the giant Panovision lens- It worked! Once the shade was discovered they purchased cases of the stuff to make sure there was enough to last for the length of the production. I have done that with smaller swatches of that material on a lens shade. Sometimes, I burn small hole in the center to get a center sharp effect. I get the small sample swatches from a local retailer and use them fro testing and actual use.

Most of my soft focus work is in portraiture, however,I have used the for landscape work as well. I have to be more watchful for flare and a good bellows lens shade is mandatory.

Soft focus photography is a multi purpose technique. It can be used to help hide blemishes in portraiture, in certain cases, I can eliminate facial retouching altogether. I can add an element of romance, mystery or the retro look to just about any image that requires such treatments.

With my alternative materials, I have mounted some in little frames which fit in my bellows lens shade's filter compartment.

I hope this helps. Experimentation will yield all kinds of good and unique results.

Ed


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