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Photography Question 
Marc D. Bell
 

How to Soften a Portrait?


I wish someone could tell me the best (and best priced) photo program that is easy to use. I'm wanting on occasion to soften a close up portrait. I currently use Adobe 7.0, I've had it for several years and to be honest I don't use it much. Thank you!


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1/5/2008 4:12:12 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Orton effect
http://www.naturephotographers.net/articles0106/dw0106-1.html


Here is the step-by-step recipe for making Orton images in Photoshop:

Open any image you wish to try the technique on. Make a duplicate of the image (Image>Duplicate). Close the original image.
Lighten the image as follows: Image>Apply Image… then in the dialog box that comes up change the bending mode to “Screen” and the Opacity to 100%. This will give you an appropriately overexposed image.
Duplicate this overexposed image (Image>Duplicate).
Blur this second image (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur… and in the dialog box use a Radius setting of 15 to 50 pixels – the higher the pixel setting the blurrier the photo and the more ‘painterly’ the image… but you can go too far!). Experiment with different settings, for my tastes and for the size of my digital files (50-100 megabytes) a radius of about 25 pixels works perfect.
Now select the move tool from the Photoshop tool bar (or just press “v” on your keyboard for quicker access to the move tool). Hold down the “shift” key and use your mouse to drag and drop the blurry image onto the sharp one (don’t let go of the shift key until after you release the mouse button or the images won’t be in perfect alignment).
Bring up the layers palette in Photoshop (F7 is the keyboard shortcut). Under the word “Layers” in the layers palette will be a menu box of blending modes. Change the blending mode from “normal” to “multiply”.
Now “flatten’ the two layers by pressing “CTRL+E” or by clicking on the sideways triangle in the layers palette to select ‘flatten image’.
There, you now have an Orton image - if you like your new masterpiece save the file!


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1/5/2008 5:39:22 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  I also use a couple of varied ways of doing this effect. Sometimes I just duplicate the image and apply Gaussian Blur and then use the opacity slider to control how much blur there is. You can also use the brush tool on the duplicate layer and remove some of the blur to specific parts of the image to make those areas a little less blurry. I sometimes will brush over someones face/eyes to make them sharper against the contrasting softness. Using layers is the most powerful tool in PS. Lewis Kemper's Toolbox 1 class is very in depth working with layers. The class is intense but the amount of knowledge & tools you will learn will greatly enhanse your ability to work images in different ways.


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1/5/2008 5:53:43 PM

 
Richard Lynch
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  An easy way to do this is (on a flattened image):
  1. Open your image
  2. Hold down Command / Ctrl [Mac / PC] and click on the RGB Channel thumbnail in the Channels palette. This loads the luminosity of the image as a selection to select, essentially, the bright part off the image.
  3. Copy
  4. Paste (creates a new layer with the highlights isolated).
  5. Apply Gaussian Blur (the amount will depend on the softness desired, resolution of the image, and a few other things).
  6. Lower the opacity of the layer (usually somewhere between 20-30%).
I usually duplicate that layer and set the mode to Softlight to enhance the contrast that gets lost.

My Correct and Enhance Your Images and Leveraging Layers: Photoshop's Most Powerful Tool courses provide more details on this and MANY other effects and techniques.


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1/6/2008 6:40:04 AM

 
Marc D. Bell   Thank you Carlton and Richard for your advice. I appreciate it.


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1/6/2008 7:44:24 AM

 
Tony Sweet
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  Risking sounding like an anachronism, how about just using a Singh Ray Soft Ray filter? Just pop it on the lens and take the picture. The approx. $200 price tag will certainly pay for itself in the time not spent in the digital darkroom. Check out: http://singhray.com to see some example images.


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1/7/2008 6:12:08 AM

 
Tony Sweet
TonySweet.com
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
4-Week Short Course: High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D3 and D700
4-Week Short Course: Nikon D800/D800E: A Quick Start Course!
Fine Art Flower Photography
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision
  Risking sounding like an anachronism, how about just using a Singh Ray Soft Ray filter? Just pop it on the lens and take the picture. The approx. $200 price tag will certainly pay for itself in the time not spent in the digital darkroom. Check out: http://singhray.com to see some example images.


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1/7/2008 6:14:07 AM

 
Marc D. Bell   Thank you, Tony, actually using a filter was my first thought. Especially since I'm far from being hip to photoshop. I'll admit I'm a total dummy when it comes to adobe or any other form of program to fix, manipulate or otheriwise alter photos. I try to get the shot I want with my camera and not worry about having to spend the time I don't have in photoshop "digital darkroom". I will check out the Singh Ray filter, Tiffen has a soft filter as well ... Any info on that?
If you don't mind, I'd also like to ask you this (not to change the subject, but I noticed your a Nikon guy like me). I was looking into getting the D2Xs but someone else told me to take a long look at Nikon's D300. I'd welcome any thoughts you have on this.
Thanks!


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1/7/2008 11:19:28 AM

 
Tony Sweet
TonySweet.com
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
4-Week Short Course: High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography
4-Week Short Course: Mastering the Nikon D3 and D700
4-Week Short Course: Nikon D800/D800E: A Quick Start Course!
Fine Art Flower Photography
Image Design: Revealing Your Personal Vision
  You may want to get into some Photoshop stuff. You don't need to know a lot, but you do need to know how to increase contrast, adjust saturation, and sharpen for print. This is essential no matter how little you want to use PS, in order to get the picture to look like a slide.
In regards to filters, the Singh Ray soft ray is about the best-quality soft filter out there. Zoftar is also quite good, comparable to the Singh Ray. Tiffen filters are lower quality and inconsistent (in my experience). Nothing good is cheap.
Take a look at the D300. I have a D3 and D300, and both are the current state of the art. I'm putting together a course on the D300 beginning in Feb. You'll be able to see a course description in a couple of weeks on the site. The D2X is a professional camera with a better metering system in marginal light than the D200/300 and is better sealed against the elements. It's your choice. You can probably get a used D2Xs in excellent condition for a good price if you look around.


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1/7/2008 11:33:19 AM

 
Richard Lynch
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4-Week Short Course: Looking Good in Print and On the Web: Color Management
  I'd agree with Tony that shooting how you want it is probably the best idea: there is never a better solution than shooting it right first (and Tony has some great courses that help show you how!). But when you find you didn't do it, digital processing can be your second best solution.

Richard Lynch


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1/7/2008 12:21:53 PM

 
Marc D. Bell   Thank you Tom & (Richard). I've used the D2Xs and love the way it handles. I'll wait a little longer and let the price drop a bit or as you state, just plain look around and try to get a good deal on one. I also thank you re: PS. I do use it to increase contrast and sharpen.
Thanks again guys,

Marc


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1/7/2008 12:57:36 PM

 
Vicki L. Filippin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/25/2005
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  Are these suggestions the same that are used for 'glamour' images? I've seen so many portraits out there where the faces are flawless but the eyes and other detail is crystal clear. I'm wanting to learn how to do just that.
Any other suggestions?
Thanks!
Vicki


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1/10/2008 8:15:21 AM

 
Richard Lynch
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  Vicki,
Soft focus is indeed often a component of glamour photos...magically reducing skin flaws and such. Here you have solutions from both sides of processing. You may need to do more in post processing to reduce blemishes, lines, wrinkles, etc., but makup is the alternative.

Richard Lynch


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1/10/2008 8:28:47 AM

 
Vicki L. Filippin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/25/2005
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  Thanks for the quick reply, Richard. I've used the Orton effect on nature shots, but not portraits. I'll give them all a try and see which I like best.
Regards,
Vicki


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1/10/2008 8:41:26 AM

 
Phyllis C. Stockfisch   You asked about a program. I too get very frustrated with Photoshop even though it does everything imaginable. Try Lightroom. The learing curb is quick and easy. I have cut my dark room time in a 3rd and for the first time ever I have my photos organized. It doesn't entirely replace Photoshop but it cures a lot of ills.


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1/15/2008 4:52:39 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  CS3 has some automated tools that make enhancemants a lot easier. You can create an action to include levels, curves, saturation, Gaussian Blur, etc.. and set the desired amount for each adjustment. You can also apply stopping points to tweak a specific one (or all) or just let it run. It will do several adjustments in just seconds when performing the action. You can select which adjustments you want for an action and save it and create several more actions for different effects. I think I will create one for the Orton effect and place a stopping point after blur is added in case I want to remove the amount of blur in some areas.
CS3 Camera Raw converter is also much easier and with better control than previous versions. It also has automated features but I tend to play a little more with my raw images and haven't used any automation yet.
I know Photoshop can be a bit intimidating but it is such a powerful tool and I enjoy the large learning curve and the pleasant surprises I get when I learn something new about it.


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1/15/2008 12:25:28 PM

 
David B. Coblitz
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/15/2005
 
 
  original
original
Took with an old push here dummy camera, so don't judge the picture quality, just the softening effect.
© David B. Coblitz
Panasonic Lumix DM...
 
  Picassa soft tool
Picassa soft tool
Note leaves a clear area that you can tailor the size & position of or eliminate.
© David B. Coblitz
Panasonic Lumix DM...
 
 
Picassa is FREE software from Google.com and it has a very nice softening feature that you can adjust for where, how much, how large area. The glow tool is very nice also. I'd try that before you spend any money. It's very easy for a newcomer to use.


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1/15/2008 10:04:39 PM

 
Nancy    I've been using Paint Shop Pro X. I just upgraded to Pro X2. This is a Corel product. Within the program, X2, I use skinsoftners on portraits and soft focus. It also has make-up tool for(blemeshes,crowsfeet wrinkles shinny spots, etc. from skin),a teeth whitner tool. The clone brush is great for taking glare off glasses, and many other uses. Cost at Amazon $84.49.


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1/15/2008 10:49:57 PM

 
Richard Lynch
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  As the original poster has Photoshop 7, it seems less appropriate to consider additional software (which will be more things to learn, and unless it is free an additional cost). Photoshop generally has all you need if you are willing to learn to use the tools. "Fast" and "automated" tools rarely do the job a good manual (or semi-manual) technique can. Understanding how corrections work will yield far better results -- no matter what package you use to adjust your images.

Richard Lynch


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1/16/2008 2:48:01 AM

 
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