Soft focus for portraits of women....

Started Aug 11, 2011 | Discussions thread
DBCapybara Regular Member • Posts: 407
Re: Don't worry so much about "soft focus" specifically...

A few clarifications about some of the posts in this thread...

1. The program is called Portrait Professional, not Professional Portrait. It is made by Anthropics Technology and is capable of some pretty good results if you learn how to properly use it. You do have to dial it way down. Basically, if you are a Photoshop wizard, you can get the same or better results, what PP allows you is the luxury of time, it is much, much faster than doing each image from scratch in Photoshop.

2. As the posts in this thread will attest, the Nikon DC lenses (135 and 105) are the most misunderstood lenses on the market. Contrary to popular belief, they are not "soft focus" lenses, they are defocus control lenses (hence the DC moniker). These lenses allow the photographer to select the softness and spread level of the bokeh in the BG, they are not intended to make a soft image although I guess by slightly misfocusing, any lens can produce a soft focus, but it just looks bad, not romantic and moody.

The most practical suggestion would be to get a good portrait lens like an 85mm 1.4 or a 105 DC and shoot a good looking shallow DOF image with eyes in focus. Experiment with the DOF, bracketing your shots at 1.8, 2.3, 2.8, 3.5 and choose whichever images give you the softness around the features that she wants to de-emphasize. Then learn how to do really high quality retouching, it is an acquired skill. and is not easy or simple but once you learn how to do it, it's not rocket science either. Portrait Professional is a way to finesse similar results, although not as precisely as you can in Photoshop.

The main thing is your eye. Most people use too much PP and the models end up looking like robots. It takes a lot of artistic ability and taste to be able to objectively examine your own work and decide "that's enough, it looks good but still looks organic and natural. I would consider a class or do some Kelby or Lynda courses in PP.

Good luck, show us your results once you go for it.

I am all about the images not the gear.

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