Soft focus filter in photography

Soft focus filters, used in photography creates dreamily and romantic effect. They diffuse the image and produce a misty atmosphere. They are used for removing unwanted details or texture from a photograph. These filters are to be used with precautions as they can spoil a picture.

Final result of the image will depend on strength of the filter, contrast ratio of the image, size of the light source, aperture of the ;ens and enlargement of the print.


Strength of a filter: Most of reputed filter manufacturers make a set of three filters in different strength of the diffusing medium; low, moderate and high. Low will give very little diffusion, whereas moderate and high will give more. WE have to select a filter, after considering other factors.

Contrast ratio: In order to get required effect, contrast ratio of the image should be slightly increased. The filter will reduce the overall contrast, which has to be compensated.




This are examples of photograph, shot without and with soft focus filter. Model: Samara Robins

Size of the light source:Use medium sized source of the light. This will provide enough room for the filter to play. Soft light will not give as much as misty look as a medium light source.

Aperture: Smaller aperture reduces the overall diffusion compared to the wider aperture. Select the aperture as per your liking and amount of diffusion you want.

Enlargement: When all other factors are constant, small size image will give less diffusion effect as compared to a larger size image. So if we need to enlarge the final print, then we must select a filter with less diffusion.

All these factors are subjective and depends on personal choice and application. Some subjects may need more softening effect than other. However, a general guide line is, soft filters are indispensable, when you are shooting a soft subject like a child or a lady. They also play a good role in a high key photograph, but they will never work when you are shooting a masculine subject like a male model or a robust engineering product.

These special effect filters can be made by smudging a drop of baby oil or Vaseline on a sky light or a UV filter. Experiment with various thickness and directional smudge, as irregular or linear smudge will give totally different results compared to circular smudge. We can also apply this technique for a local diffusion in the composition.

We can also add the effect of soft filter during post production.Some camera has an inbuilt software, which can add softness in a photograph.

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