Soft Light


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Feb 28, 2006
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Mansfield, Texas
Can anyone give me some pointers in getting that soft glow look in portraits? I see it all the time in "glamuer" type shots or bridal pictures. I have a DVD full of wedding photos and bridal pictures of my wife that our photographer gave us. It is a friend of the family and she gave me the un-touched images to use on my website. I was just wanting to expirement with them to learn how to accomplish the effect. Any pointers for a beginner?
marwa45 said:
yes that is right

lol, thanks!

Also, perhaps try a lighten to white or darken to black vignette using an oval mask. Gaussian blur on skintones can even them as can selective use of the clone stamper and healing brush. Wedding photography is a bit like high-glamour shots - the object is to flatter the subject(s) rather than produce an ultra-sharp realistic image.

Make a copy layer on top of the original layer. Gaussian blur the original layer. Play with the layer blending modes (soft light, diffusion, etc...), and various levels of opacity on the top layer.

Just google "soft glow effect", and you'll find lot's of examples how to do it.
Thx for the tips everyone. You gave me a direction to go. I was looking through all of the the stock filter options in PS and I was the hell amd I going to stumble accross the right one....
Soft filters are way too hokey to spend $230 on; 2 filters for the price of Adobe PS. I'll take PS. If you want to do it in-camera just stretch some white or black nylon over your lens.

Or smear vaseline on a clear or UV filter. Even when shooting film I prefer to add the soft glow in the darkroom (stretch the nylon over the enlarger lens). Adding effects in-camera seems to insure that the client will decide they don't like it, and ask for the straight version. ;)
ksmattfish said:
Soft filters are way too hokey to spend $230 on; 2 filters for the price of Adobe PS. I'll take PS.
The advantage of filters is that they work with digital and film. And you can put them on any camera. And you can use them on the enlarger in the darkroom. PS is now that versatile? :lol:
There are lots of different makes of soft filter - and some are quite cheap.
This will give some idea of the range available:

Vaseline on glass can work (works better for motion blur effects) but is very tricky to use properly.
I admit to using the stocking method quite often - I used to make a hole in it so you get a vignette soft filter effect. But filters are far more predictable and look just a teensy bit more professional to the client.
It's so much simpler [and cheaper] with film. Take the picture, well-focussed, without anything in front of the lens. Process normally.

Cut a 2" diameter hole in a piece of cardboard. Tape a patch of sheer pantyhose over the hole. You now have a bargain basement infinitely variable diffuser.

During enlargement, hold the diffuser between the lens and the paper, moving it gently. Too much diffusion? Reduce the percent of time you use the diffuser during the enlargement.

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