Infusing Your Pictures With Some Soft Focus Effects
While soft focus effects are utilized today to infuse images with enhancements like a soft-glowing atmosphere, these effects actually have their roots in a defect! Originally, soft focus was viewed as a flaw in the lens because spherical aberration created images that appeared blurry.
It’s important to make a distinction between an out-of-focus picture and soft focus effects, which will appear blurry while still retaining relatively sharp edges.
Because of the dreamlike image quality that soft focus effects produce, they’re naturally used a lot in advertising and fashion photography. Conversely, soft focus effects are not that common or popular for landscapes. That’s not to say, though, that these effects can’t help a landscape. Sometimes, landscapes can benefit from these effects, especially if there are backlit subjects as well.
If you want to finely alter your images to treat the viewer to a desired and specific interpretation, then soft focus is one of your best bets. There are a various ways in which you can achieve these effects in your pictures.
The Photoshop Methods
Guess what? Photoshop has really serious uses, too (it’s not just for tomfoolery and immature edits)! Its usefulness in achieving different soft focus effects is a major illustration of this point. Below, we take a look at the best ways that you can take advantage of Photoshop’s power to make your photographs all dreamy and atmospheric.
The use of a blurring filter—specifically the Gaussian blur or Gaussian smoothing—is both the most efficient and effective approach to incorporating soft focus into your images. With the blurring filter, you have the power to fade this filter through the combination of low opacity and a suitable blending mode. Even though this approach is a straightforward one, it’s not without its issues.
This procedure will work directly on the photograph. As such, it can be extremely tiresome to fine tune; in addition, you may also encounter some issues when you try to save such an image. So what can you do as an alternative to this option?
Why… just utilize overlays instead! Overlays will permit you to still produce a desirable soft focus effect, yet they won’t manipulate your underlying picture. As a result, you get to achieve your intended soft focus effects without any of the aforementioned hassles.
Getting to Know the Soft Overlay Method
Arguably the simplest effect when it comes to this technique, the soft overlay utilizes a duplicate picture layer when the blending mode gets adjusted to overlay. Incorporating your Gaussian blur and then manipulating the picture’s opacity permit the effect’s intensity to be changed as you please. This helps in finding an intensity that is appropriate to your image.
Be aware, though: This particular method will eventually produce a resulting picture whose saturation and contrast are greater than those in your original photograph. This is due to the dependence on the overlay blending mode with this approach. However, the upside to this is that it can frequently produce results that are very pleasing to the eye from an aesthetic point of view.
Understanding the Soft Filter Method
An alternative to the above is the soft filter method. As its name implies, it imitates the consequences of utilizing a soft focus filter on your digital camera.
Here’s what happens in this approach: a blurry as well as desaturated version of the photograph gets overlaid right on top of the image’s original color. This is achieved via the lighten blending mode. Intensifying both the monochrome layer’s opacity and the blur creates the exact, same effect as relying on a more powerful camera filter.
Historically, soft focus effects were actually created manually, without the aid of time-saving technology such as Photoshop. Soft focus effects were the results of special filters; during capture, the effects were created. Soft focus effects via filters could range in extremes from just subtle effects to various mist or fog effects created by specific filters.