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  1. #1

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    Creating soft focus

    I have several portrait negatives that are sharp and I want to create a softer image. Medium format 6x6 b&w negatives, Omega enlarger, color head for variable contrast work. Printing on Ilford Multigrade glossy, fiber paper. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Diffusion on an enlarger head makes the shadows fuzzy instead of the highlights. Many people don't like this effect. Maybe try a matte paper.

    Quote Originally Posted by matherto
    I have several portrait negatives that are sharp and I want to create a softer image. Medium format 6x6 b&w negatives, Omega enlarger, color head for variable contrast work. Printing on Ilford Multigrade glossy, fiber paper. Thanks.

  3. #3
    wfe
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    Try anything that will difuse the light a bit such as plastic wrap. If you have a glass neg carrier you could try smearing some gel type stuff on it. Experiment and I am sure you will find something that works. Nylon stockings stretched over the lens works also. try throwing the lens a bit out of focus for the last bit of the exposure.
    ~Bill
    "Real Art is a Thin Breath Exhaled Amidst a Struggle in the Mind"
    Fine Art and Portraits

  4. #4
    Ole
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    If you have a 6x6 slide mount with glass, the anti-newton side of that is the best darkroom diffuser I've come across. Use it for 1/4 to 1/2 of the total exposure.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  5. #5

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    I'm with Ole on this one. It will reduce the contrast a little so you may want to crank it up a grade or so.

    Geoff

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I'm one of those people who generally doesn't like diffusion at the enlarging stage, because it's unnatural to bleed the shadows into the highlights, but the most effective way I've seen of doing this subtly is to use a Softar 1 filter under the enlarging lens for 25-50% of the enlarging time.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #7

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    The classical technique uses a bit of nylon stocking stretched taut in an embroidary hoop. The amount of diffusion depends on how far the hoop is held below the lens.

  8. #8

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    It would appear to me that the best way to create soft focus that does not bleed shadows into highlights is to create a very diffuse, medium density mask that would be printed in register with the camera negative.

    This should bleed highlights into shadows.

  9. #9
    Charles Webb's Avatar
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    Try printing 1/2 or a third of the exposure sharp then back off the focusing knob a tiny bit. Diffusion above the negative does vertually nothing to spread the high lights into the shadow. Remember you are focusing on the grain. To soften it back off on the focus. None of the methods are very good in my opinion and will never come close to the look of a soft focus lens.
    See Jim Galli, he has an old Wolensak copy of a Pinkham and Smith lens that he might part with to the highest bidder! :-) Charlie............

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Webb
    Try printing 1/2 or a third of the exposure sharp then back off the focusing knob a tiny bit. Diffusion above the negative does vertually nothing to spread the high lights into the shadow. Remember you are focusing on the grain. To soften it back off on the focus. None of the methods are very good in my opinion and will never come close to the look of a soft focus lens.
    See Jim Galli, he has an old Wolensak copy of a Pinkham and Smith lens that he might part with to the highest bidder! :-) Charlie............
    Charles,

    Have you ever done any masking of camera negatives with lithographic film?

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