View Full Version : Soft focus effects

Dave Saunders
21-Mar-2008, 14:13
This may sound a dumb question, but can you add a soft focus effect to an image at the printing stage (B/W), by putting soft filter under enlarger lens?

Ralph Barker
21-Mar-2008, 14:18
Certainly. Various materials will give different effects, similar to using diffusion filters over the lens. Under the enlarger, however, you can vary the degree of diffusion by controlling the duration the diffusion is used.

David A. Goldfarb
21-Mar-2008, 14:24
But, it will look different from the same effect applied when you make the photograph, because diffusion under the enlarging lens diffuses the shadows into the highlights, rather than diffusing the highlights into the shadows. You also can't create the same effects in the darkroom that you can with soft focus lenses, which usually combine a diffuse and a sharp image.

That said, one of the most convincing uses of diffusion at the enlarging stage I've seen involved using a Softar 1 filter over the enlarging lens for about 1/3 of the enlargement time.

Mark Woods
21-Mar-2008, 14:49
Herbie Worthington used a net on the lens of his enlarger for the 1978 Fleetwood Mac Rumors Album Cover. The effect is different, but can be very pleasing. I sometimes put a diffusion filter behind the lens (or better, above it on my 8x10 Besler enlarger). Depending on how much I use, I can get very nice images in the pictorialist tradition.

Tim Curry
21-Mar-2008, 15:23
Portraits can be enhanced with a section of fiberglass window screen. Figure the exact exposure, then cut the time in half (about 1/2, not exact as the screen will cut light transmission). Move the screen a bit and you will have a nice muted effect. Us different sizes for different areas, screen is cheap! tim

Jim Galli
21-Mar-2008, 22:07
Or use a Wollensak Verito as your enlarger lens.

Brian Ellis
22-Mar-2008, 08:57
Sure. In fact I liked to do it that way better than in-camera. While the look is different as David mentioned, it's not worse, just different but not something most people will even notice. Using the filter under the enlarger allows you to play around with different ratios of soft vs normal to come up with something you like, which isn't feasible when the soft focus is done in camera. I seldom liked a 100% soft focus look, something like 40% of the time with soft and 60% normal was more to my tastes but it.