Last Updated on 07/18/2017 by Chris Gampat
One of the popular photo looks these days is the soft focus look; and for many photographers it’s tough to get it just right unless you really understand what’s going on. The soft focus look is based on what photographers used to produce years ago in the film days. Some photographers achieved it by putting stockings over the front of the lens or rubbing vaseline on a piece of glass then putting that in front of the lens. Other photographers do it by scratching a lens up a whole lot to kill the sharpness and details the lens can produce.
I’m pretty positive you don’t want to scratch up some glass, so here’s how you can get the look using Adobe Lightroom.
Soft Focus Tutorial Video
Above is our video on how to achieve this look.
The reasoning for my edits are pretty simple:
- Film was balanced to 5500K daylight or 3200K tungsten. Then there was black and white too, which was also typically balanced to daylight.
- Lenses back then were a whole lot less contrasty than today’s lenses are.
- Film processing methods weren’t what they are today, and weren’t able to do everything in the darkroom that we can do today. Arguably, methods like Fujifilm Frontier helped change that up a whole lot.
- Instant film, like Fujifilm 100C, didn’t have a lot of latitude. It’s sort of like slide film but muted and less sharp.
This tutorial is taking all of that into mind to create a pretty colloquial look, but also taking into consideration that lots of folks still like to have a bit of sharpness to their images. So consider this method to be a lighter process.
Here are a number of extra sample images for you to check out using this method. As you can see it’s pretty darned effective. These images were shot with the Fujifilm GFX 50s and so obviously they’re going to be super sharp and detailed. But if you apply the ideas to other cameras, you’ll get better results.
Try it yourself! I’ve made a number of presets available for you to experiment with. Try the Daylight, Tungsten or Black and White presets. Download the presets for free!