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Soft Images

Soft images are not out of focus images. A soft image shows less sharp detail, but is still in focus. They can be created by accident or by design either in editing or at the point the image is taken. Many photos taken historically with simpler lenses produced a soft image.

Soft images are often created by design for portraiture of ladies, giving them a softer complexion and less ageing, as well as for skin and other blemishes where some magic potion is supposed to have arrested ageing.

For advertising photography its sometimes used to effectively soften all but the product being sold, which is left sharp and jumping out of the page. Often this will be done at a level where it is not noticed by those looking, but still has an affect.

Some image softening will often be used when Creating Vintage Images - Old Look Photos. 

Most photo editing packages will have several ways that the image can be softened, either for the whole image or selectively. Some software designed to automatically improve portraits removes skin blemishes and has a softening effect.

Soft images can be created at the point the image is captured using a lens that produces a soft image, by the use of an external soft focus special effects filter or lens, or by adding something in front of the lens to soften the image.

Often lower cost lenses are available from secondary manufacturers to fit most makes of the better DSLR cameras, and many of these lenses are not as sharp as the camera manufacturers. Some soft focus lenses are made. Adaptors are available to fit most cameras, that allow other lenses to be fitted and this allows other older lenses to be used where your camera has the ability to handle manual lenses.

Cheaper filters often have a softening effect on the image, but special effect filters or lenses allow this to be done by design.

Photographers specialising in advertising work, will use all of the above methods, but the better ones are likely to also use older skills to achieve softer images on occasions. These techniques can include smearing something such as vaseline very finely on a filter, or pulling something with fine mesh over the lens, a piece of a stocking or tights provides a very fine mesh and the fine netting fruit comes in sometimes, gives a broader one. The amount of effect and how noticeable this is, is affected by the aperture, focal length of the lens, and the distance from the lens. The wider the aperture and longer the focal length, the more out of focus these features are. Used well you cannot see any shadowing or other effect created by the netting or smeared filter. It is a skill that is  mastered with a lot of practice and careful note taking.


See Also:

Creating Vintage Images - Old Look Photos 

Monochrome Photography





Effect filters   - special effects like stars, soft effects , netting and more.



By: Keith Park Section: Photography Section Key:
Page Ref: Soft_images Topic: Photographic Techniques  Last Updated: 03/2012

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