Lens-Artists Challenge #237 – Lowering Clarity to Bring Softness

flowers, soft, textures
Aging Gracefully

“The photographer should know by instinct, grounded in experience, what subjects are enhanced by hard or soft, light or dark treatment.”

Bill Brandt

This week we are pleased to welcome our guest host Bren of Brashley Photography. She has challenged us to create softness in our images by lowering clarity. I’ve taken the opportunity to follow her lead using several different techniques, including applying textures, as above, and using Topaz software as shown below. I created the first image as part of a class in floral photography, and the second during a visit earlier this month with Lens-Artists team member John Steiner.

garden, bench, impression, path, Kiawah
Cezanne-ish Garden

“A picture is the expression of an impression. If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”

Ernst Haas

Another favorite technique for softening images is panning, as shown below. Moving the camera very slowly from side to side, nature’s light and color become the subject as opposed to the action of the waves and the surf.

Kiawah, ocean, panning, light
Panning Kiawah’s Ocean

“Photography…is about solace, and panning for gold.

Grant Lucas

Yet another technique I sometimes use is to capture the reflection of an object rather than the object itself. The image below shows a much softer version than would an image of the actual tree. I captured this one on the same photography outing with John that I mentioned earlier in my post.

palmetto, kiawah, reflection
Palmetto Reflection

“Am I a reflection of my film or is my film a reflection of me?”

Kevin Russo

Finally, one additional way to soften is to let Mother Nature take the lead, capturing the soft light created by an overlay of fog or mist. The scene below is one of my favorites. To capture it, I’d weathered a major rainstorm to await its arrival. It was almost as if nature was rewarding me for my perseverance 😊.

fog, Kiawah, mist
Breaking Through

When somehow the atmosphere becomes alive with fog, or clouds, or rain,…great photographs can be made outdoors.” 

Brooks Jensen

Sincere thanks to Bren for leading us with her interesting challenge. I enjoyed both her beautiful images and the techniques she used to create them. I’ll definitely be trying her approach in future outings. Be sure to link your responses to her post here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to Amy for last week’s North/South/East/West challenge. Once again we are reminded that the world is indeed a beautiful place.

I’ll be traveling next week but will do my best to follow this week’s responses and comments, and to join next week’s challenge. In the meanwhile, as always please stay safe, be kind, and enjoy the journey.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists challenge? Click here for more information.

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83 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #237 – Lowering Clarity to Bring Softness

  1. These shots r absolutely gorgeous!!! SO interesting how the details of each one is SO different based on the adjustment of technique!! LOVE these!!

  2. Pingback: Lens-ArtistPC-237-Bringing-Softness – WoollyMuses

  3. did I mention how much I liked the Palmetto Reflection? It hs he cool colors of calmness – the centering is striking – and then it has an abstract and even maybe science ficton vibe – depending on how we look at it – oh and there is a softness too of course –
    and fun post overall

  4. Wonderful choices of different techniques – this is one of my favourite posts from you, Tina! I cannot pick a favourite – or I will not. They are all perfect in their own way. The panning is gorgeous though, never thought of doing that. Now I feel I have to scroll back again…

  5. A beautiful series of photos, Tina ~ the idea of softening photos is something I do not think about enough… the shots you have here have a wonderful surrealist nature. The third shot, panning the shoreline, is beautiful and a favorite. In the past, I always enjoyed the panning technique because it was a bit exciting to see if I could create something I had envisioned πŸ™‚ Thank you for reminding me of this, as I want to head out and try it now!

    • Excellent Randall, happy to have reminded you! It’s funny, as we learn things we tend to do them more often and then over time we kind of forget about them. I’ve done many pans of trees but rarely the ocean. May have to go back to that ! Many thanks for the lovely comment.

  6. I always love your filter techniques, Tina! Such gorgeous examples of soft focus. But when mother nature softens (or colors) the subject for you, then any efforts to capture it with a lens is golden! I love the idea of panning for softness, I might even be able to do that one πŸ™‚

    • I have every confidence in your Terri – go for it! It takes a bit of practice to get it right but that’s the beauty of today’s technology – you don’t have to worry about needing 10 or 20 shots and using up all of your film 😊

      • How kind of you to say, Tina. I took a photo class in college where we rented cameras and developed our own film. Talk about hoarding and making sure of the perfect shot. Glad the days of tech are here and a quick delete takes care of the problem πŸ™‚

  7. Wow, I love all your images this week, they’re all lovely in their own way ❀ If pushed to choose a favourite it would probably be the flower shot right at the top, it’s gorgeous!

  8. Beautiful examples, Tina! I especially love the effect of panning on the ocean. The opening floral image and the garden bench are wonderful takes on the challenge.
    On a side note, for some reason, your images didn’t show up in my reader. I had to click on the link to your actual post to see any images. I haven’t noticed that issue with others I’ve read yesterday and today. Did you change anything in your posting style? Just curious.

    • Many thanks Amy – I do enjoy panning now and then, especially with long tall trees. This may have been the only time I really panned at the ocean. The light was just so perfect for it.

    • Thanks Frank – yes the focus (pun intended) on software development for photography has been incredible these last few years. The whole A I thing is really scary! I’ve given up on tracking what’s available!

  9. A lovely selection. I particularly like the last two, because they hit the brief without much – or perhaps any – editing. If I rise to the challenge ( uncertain) it will have to be unedited shots, as I don’t have any editing programmes.

    • Thanks very much Margaret – you’re absolutely right. The last image was straight out of camera and the tree editing was simply taking a few distracting things out of the water around the tree.

  10. Very difficult to pick a favourite and I’m not sure I want to. All so different and beautiful, they all have their own message. I find your last one mesmerizing but love them all equally.

  11. This felt like a great opportunity to play with a new toy. Experimentation with different editing….fun. Like you I love playing around with it. (Still deciding). Like others, your beach grabs my attention, and the tree invites a closer look. Interesting.

    Definitely a reflection of you, regarding your quote. Enjoy your travels.

  12. I read the title of your first photo–aging gracefully–and thought Bren was suggesting self-portraits. πŸ˜† Your photos make it so hard to select a favorite, but I really like the panning and reflection photos. All are stellar, Tina.

  13. Beautiful Tina… love the flower image with the added softness and texture. You’ve created such beautiful examples of softness… But I just love that blue sea, sand and sunset photograph. By softening it is magical and so enticing xx

  14. Lovely. I particularly loved your panned sunset – my son was giving that technique a go yesterday at the beach, to great effect

  15. It’s a lovely subject, Tina, beautifully explained. I usually have clear favourites but I’d struggle with this. You know water always calls me but that Monet effect is entrancing. Have a wonderful time on your travels and we’ll catch up soon.

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