Shooting Challenge: Soft Focus

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Soft Focus

Imagine the first shot of a dame in an old black and white movie. She's soft. She's glowing. She's radiant. She's really just the byproduct of antique, flawed lenses. For this week's Shooting Challenge, you'll recreate soft focus.

The Challenge

Capture a photo in soft focus.

The Technique

Modern lenses have been engineered to be more perfect than the soft-focus-laden glass of yore. So you can go about this two ways: use a filter, or soften the image in post production.


Let's call it an analog vs digital fight.

For the analogers, filters consisting of nylons and petroleum jelly will both soften the image (you can try to unfocus your image just a bit, but that can be lead to a look that's more out of focus than soft focus). A craptastic plastic lens can work wonders, too. So if you own a toy camera, or have been considering one, what a great opportunity—especially if it's loaded with softened, expired film.

For the digitalers, a little gaussian blur will go a long way, or mix your own custom batch of digital filters. And a little guilt for the ease of deploying modern technology to do your bidding won't hurt, either.

The Example

So why did I post Dean Crosher's tiger rather than an old Hollywood starlet? Because it's a freaking tiger, that's why, in what's basically nature's hot (or cold) tub -> a scene with a completely different connotation (not that I'm sure what that connotation is) because of soft focus. It's a tiger photo that makes me chuckle a bit, infused with an extra splash of melodrama.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, Nov 21st at 8AM Eastern to with "Soft Focus" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameSoftFocus.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameSoftFocusWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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wish i could find the other one