Light[2] techniques : LUSENET : PFRH digital-photo-art : One Thread


Nice work; thanks for sharing. I love that Alex guy -- do you use a filter? How do you get that soft edge to your photos yet retain the crispness on the face? nice technique. It's not depth of field...this looks like something else.

Thanks again


-- P Michael Perez (, September 05, 1999


The soft-focus style effect is something I hit upon some years back and use a lot, with varying degrees of subtlety.

It's not in-camera, no. All of my pictures go through a digital "post-production" phase, in the same way modern movies do. I treat photos as base material, and "neatify" them to produce a final image which I find beautiful - which at a minimum usually involves removing distractions or imperfections, adjusting colours & intensities, and balancing a composition through surface textures (including defocusing or "messing up" areas).

All of the light[2] images just went through Photoshop, where I worked on each for anything up to several hours. I don't have a set series of steps that were applied uniformly, but rather a big mental pool of favourite techniques from which I mix'n'match, responding to each individual image's needs.

I use very few Photoshop filters, most commonly: Gaussian Blur (built-in), Intellihance (Extensis), two of the filters in KPT3 (Metatools), Varifocus (Andromeda).

I just about NEVER use a filter, or other effect (Hue/Saturation, Levels, Color Balance, etc) at full strength. I use the Fade command to reduce the opacity straight after applying things. This is absolutely the key if you want to imitate the effect you're describing.

I also use masks a lot - generated from Select Color Range, directly from one of the Channels (Command-click on a channel's icon), or painted in Quick Mask mode with the Airbrush. Often I'll copy and paste a feathered selection to make one or more new layers, apply filters or adjustments to those, reduce their opacity & flatten back down.

This has been the basis of my working method on all my images for the last few years, but where usually I'd carry on like that for days per image, at high resolution and often using other filters or tools like Painter or Bryce, for Light[2] I've deliberately stopped as soon as possible, doing the absolute minimum to get a picture just "good enough".

So in short, for the soft focus effect - make a feathered selection, apply medium-heavy Gaussian Blurring (from maybe 5-40 radius), then immediately hit Fade & drop the opacity. Disco.

-- PFRH (, September 05, 1999.

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