View Full Version : A couple of soft focus images, compared.

Reinhold Schable
19-Feb-2015, 08:49
A buddy wasn't sure if he'd like the concept of using a soft focus lens as a landscape lens.

He mounted one of my 250mm f:4.2 Wollastons on his 4x5 Graflex to photo a covered bridge.
One was shot almost wide open, @ f:5.6, the other shot @ f:11.
Late afternoon sidelight, light hazy sky overhead.
His first reaction was that the f:5.6 negative was useless "mush" and almost threw it away.
After adjusting for printing contrast, here's how they compared...

He wasn't sure which one he favored, so he'd like your opinion.



19-Feb-2015, 08:56
I like the first one as far as soft focus goes

Jim Fitzgerald
19-Feb-2015, 09:21
I like the first on as well. BTW, I may be your neighbor by the end of the year. We are moving to the Vancouver WA. area.

19-Feb-2015, 10:22
I'm sorry but I don't think the extra soft focus effects in the first one make the shot any better or more interesting. Not every shot looks better in a soft focus interpretation.

19-Feb-2015, 11:19
I really like the glow on the first one but there's not much detail to bite into...perhaps somewhere between the two.

19-Feb-2015, 13:09
You can't make a silk purse....

Jim Galli
19-Feb-2015, 14:40
Neither. The area of interest has to be the doghouse over the bridge. He defeated himself by focusing on the guardrail way out in front. Makes the image pointless.

19-Feb-2015, 17:12
Prefer the f11 shot more.

Reinhold Schable
19-Feb-2015, 18:12
Buddy thanks everyone for their comments.
He was fully aware that he missed the focus.
Meniscus lenses are not easy to focus, especially since he's new at it.
He was hoping that opinion would revolve around the overall aesthetics of heavy -vs- light diffusion.
Next time he promises to put his glasses on when focusing...


19-Feb-2015, 19:29
I've mentioned it before. In terms of aesthetics, djdister's comment is accurate. Rather than politely feign agreement, I am interested in promoting success in pictorial photography. Subject qualities are important. I have fun with Reinhold lenses and knowing when to use it is half the success, the other half is having the optional set of aperture cards, which I can no longer call bespoke. I want others to have fun and success with the system as well.

Regarding a road scene.. Emerson described that a pictorialist photo should approximate what eyes see; with the periphery out of focus. If I see like that on the road, get me off the road or off the sidewalk before I run someone over. I think softness can have a great effect in certain scenes. Now someone will probably find a real nice contemporary road soft focus scene and prove me wrong. The old ones don't count as people didn't drive back in Emerson's or photo secession times for the most part. I think low detail scenes work well for soft focus. High detail scenes don't translate to softness in many cases. Night, fog, snow were all common situations in original pictorialism scenes which obscured extraneous details. Seek shapes and tones with your eyes rather than details, and hunt them down with a camera and soft lens.