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Photography Question 
Stefanie Mallow Russell
 

Giving Skin a Softer Look


I am looking for an easy photo tool to make skin look softer. Any suggestions? I don't have Photoshop.


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7/27/2007 5:55:56 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  Diffuse the flash light by shooting it through something like white nylon, or bounce it off of a ceiling, wall, or white foam board. Or use window light either coming thru a sheer curtain or indirect window light.


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7/27/2007 10:57:02 PM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
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  Certainly, as Gregory suggests, probably the best way to control the scene is first to shoot it with the correct techniques (lighting, filtering, etc.). You can use photo-editing software to add a soft-focus effect. Filters and plug-ins may claim to be able to do this ... but I find a fairly simple procedure works well in Photoshop, and you should be able to mimick this in any software that has layers (Photoshop / Elements / Paint Shop Pro / GIMP / PhotoPlus / others.

1. Isolate the image highlights. In Photoshop you would do this by selecting the brightness (Command+click / Crtl+click [mac / PC] on the RGB composite channel), and then copy/paste the highlights to their own layer.

2. Blur the highlights, and lower the opacity.

I sometimes use several layers to do this effect, mixing layer modes and opacities ... but the real goal is similar to what you do when using a soft-focus filter (or even vasoline on the edge of a VU filter), and that is scattering the light. Isolating the highlights targets the lighter areas of the image only, and blurring and lowering opacity allows you to retain image edges without simply blowing away details by blurring the whole image.


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7/28/2007 6:01:29 AM

 
Stefanie Mallow Russell   I use studio lights but want to soften the image already taken to make the skin look milky soft. I am looking for an editing tool or plug in. I do not know how to do layers.


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7/28/2007 9:59:16 AM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
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  Stefanie,
Without knowing what you currently use for an image editor (you say only that you do not have Photoshop), it becomes significantly harder to make any type of recommendation for post processing. If you don't have Photoshop, Elements is a good economical second, and really it does just about everything any digital photographer will need.

Because all image editing programs are not alike, and all don't accept the same plugins, and all don't have the same features, there is no way to answer...except by concept as I have tried to do above.

I hope that helps!


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7/28/2007 1:03:44 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  And here I am thinking I don't have photoshop meant something.


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7/28/2007 4:50:00 PM

 
Marius Liebenberg
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/21/2005
  Download yourself Gimp from http://www.gimp.org/
Then once you open your photo in Gimp, on the menu go 'Filters' - 'Artistic' - 'Softglow'. That is what you are looking for.


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7/28/2007 5:36:13 PM

 
Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member
PhotoshopCS.com
Richard's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Correcting and Enhancing Images
4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management
  "And here I am thinking I don't have photoshop meant something." I do believe it did, and I think you offered the right suggestion from a pre-shot point of view. However, she also suggested she wanted to post process--which means some type of image editing or darkroom adjustment...I can't comment on a lot of other programs as I use Photoshop and Elements...they are enough to keep up with.


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7/28/2007 6:39:58 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I was joking. She made it sound like she didn't have or want to use any kind of program. Like asking what to do about a cut but saying you don't have a band-aid. Tell them apply pressure and wait for the blood to clot, then they tell you they had Curad all along.


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7/28/2007 10:38:26 PM

 
Stefanie Mallow Russell   What about a plugin to give a soft look? I have Dreamysuite which is awesome but not the look I need. Just skin softening, not the whole pic.


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7/29/2007 9:14:39 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
  Neat Image (neatimage.com) does this:
http://www.betterphoto.com/gallery/dynoGallDetail.asp?cat=&photoID=4259832
It can be either a plug-in or a standalone.


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7/29/2007 10:10:09 AM

 
Gail S. Haile   Portraitre Plus, a plug-in from Imagenomic, also does exactly what you are asking for...soften only the skin and nothing else. Works great!

Gail


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7/31/2007 4:26:21 AM

 
dennis w. mcclain  
 
  triflector test
triflector test
tameron 70-300mm ld di macro lens, f4.0 1/60 sec@ 115mm, iso 200 AWB. shot using "homebrew" triflector, 580ex

© dennis w. mcclain
Canon EOS Digital ...
 
 
one thing that will elp make softer images, is to make your light sorce big. I have started using reflectors to help with this. chep way to do this is to go to walmart or orielly's get one of those silver windshield deflectors (mine is silver on 1 side gold on the other). it cost me $7+tax. you can bounce a flash off itor ambient light. its protable. and if you have a little mechanical knowhow and imagination you can make other light modifiers. I would look into a photoediting program. im happy with photoshop elements 5.0. I also would recomend with that, a book by mark galer called, Photoshop Elements 5.0 Maximum Performance. it comes with actions and tutorials on alot of things you can do with it.
I will enclose an example of a test shot I did with a "homebrew triflector" I made with the windshield reflector I mentioned ablove


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7/31/2007 5:17:07 AM

 
Christopher Gardner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/24/2006
  Great discussion on the topic, so far. In the original question, Stefanie asks about an easy photo tool. My suggestion would be Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI. For a fraction of the Photoshop price, you will get about 80-90% of the functionality (including plug-ins, if you choose to use them).

Paint Shop Pro XI includes a "Skin Smoothing" feature that is a single-click utility to smooth skin in the photo. It takes a while since it is examining every pixel, but it works quite well.

Hope this helps.


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7/31/2007 8:42:35 AM

 
Stefanie Mallow Russell   I love the looks of portraiture plug-in but I don't think it stands alone. You have to have photoshop. I need something that stands alone I guess. I don't want to spend any money!


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7/31/2007 11:17:59 AM

 
dennis w. mcclain   when you say that do you actually mean no money what so ever, o r on a minimal budget. if so, how much can you spend. it would also help to know what equitment you have


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7/31/2007 12:03:45 PM

 
Christopher Gardner
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/24/2006
  Hi Stefanie... I agree that Photoshop (and the associated plug-ins) can be very expensive.

Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI product is usually available for between $39 and $99 for a full price purchase. This includes the Skin Smoothing tool (it is not a plug-in).

Per Dennis' question... do you have a budget of any kind or are you truly looking to do this without any cost at all? Do you have lighting equipment that will enable you to soften the image in the studio or are you looking for a free software utility of some sort?

Knowing your budget will definitely help put the answers in context.


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7/31/2007 12:44:28 PM

 
Mary L. Lemley   Hi Stephanie, you can always screw on a diffusion filter to your lens, but you will have to buy, or you can get a pair of sheer hose, rubberband very tightly around end of lens, and you may be ask questions by subject, but truth is it works in my experience and costs nothing. But, I would get both filter, and download free trial of Paint Shop Pro for 30 days. Filter can be used in many situations and diffussion filter is way less noticable than soft focus filters for lense, plus what you see TTL, is pretty much what you'll get,hope this helps some, Stephanie. Free trial version PSP costs nothing and it's fun,too. MaryL.


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7/31/2007 7:18:55 PM

 
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