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Thread: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

  1. #1
    Hans's Avatar
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    When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    With regards to sharpening (or blurring) for skin - it's a whole new ball game - best discussed in another thread if anyone is interested.
    I've been trying different ways to soften the skin on closer cropped portraits in NX2. I can do this with Gaussian Blur tool, use the Noise Reduction tool, or increase the threshold (either a control point or a paint brush). I find that, at least to my untrained eye, the noise reduction appears more attractive and less dreamlike than the gaussian blur with decreased opacity. However, the selective application of increased threshold is good for less obvious flaws (if you know what I mean).

    Just wondering what others do to achieve this softening effect and when in the workflow it is done. The sharpening increases noise so, if noise reduction is being used, does that mean that softening select areas should be done after content sharpening (thinking more the extreme softening methods like gaussian and noise reduction here)? Does it even matter?

    kind regards
    Last edited by Hans; 26th January 2010 at 02:45 AM.

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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    Hi Hans,

    The "short answer" in Photoshop is to ...

    - Duplicate the layer

    - Apply a gaussean blur to the top layer (usually around 20 pixels)

    - Add a layer mask

    - Fill the layer mask with black (to conseal the blur)

    - Set the opacity to around 50% (so you can see the effect)

    - Paint the layer mask with white to reveal the blur (soft brush, staying away from edges)

    - Tweak opacity to suit

    Got ta go (I'm hungry!) - more later

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    Hans

    You still working with the GIMP?

    Have a look at: - http://gimpguru.org/Tutorials/SoftPortrait/

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    Hans's Avatar
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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    Had a look at that link, Donald. That portrait did need some softening, didn't it

    I still have the GIMP, but have been seduced by NX2. The more I use it the more powerful it becomes. I also downloaded an update for Windows7 that has resolved some issues for me.

    I think that gaussian blur look has its applictions, but I'm looking now at how I can subtly apply softening locally (i.e. to areas like cheeks and forhead and around the eyes) without affecting the rest of the pic. I still feel the noise reduction does it for me. Just wondering when I should apply it in relation to sharpening.

    How's that non-smoking going for you?

  5. #5
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    I mostly use a noise reduction brush, but sometimes a Gaussian blur.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    I still have the GIMP, but have been seduced by NX2.
    Oh, you traitor!!

    How's that non-smoking going for you?
    Now a month since I stopped relying on patches (feel like I'm flying solo) and all remains well. Quite amazing actually. I thought I'd really struggle, but it's been pretty stress free.

    I'm quite sure the deal that was struck in the household was a primary motivational factor - i.e. all money saved for the first 6 months could be spent on camera gear (to be re-negotiated at 5 months!). That's how, for example, I just got the Tokina 11-16. It really gave to you a goal.

  7. #7

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    Re: When/How Best to SOFTEN a Digital Photograph

    In Using Gimp I have started using the Orton Effect.....this is a layer effect from FX-Foundry, it allows you to adjust the opacity of the blur and sharpen layer resulting in a lightened softened look.......

    I especially like it with multiple subject portraits.......

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