Lens-Artists Challenge #237: Softening an Image

For this weeks’ challenge, show us how you soften your images. You don’t have to stick to flowers–landscapes and architecture are also ideal subjects. By lowering the clarity and creating softness in those areas, frames the subject in an image, be it a tree, path, bridge, even a door or house or just a dreamy-looking image.

Bren of Brashley Photography

A warm welcome to Bren who is our guest host this week for the Lens-Artists Challenge. As many of you know, Bren loves to create images (especially flowers and landscapes) that have a soft and dreamy look. She invites us to share our techniques for bringing more softness into an image. This was an experiment for me, because up until now, I’ve been more focused on sharpening the image to bring out the details. So, I appreciate this chance to experiment with softness.

In this first image, I got lucky. The sky and the fog already brought elements of softness into the scene of Florence on a cloudy day. I decreased the clarity a bit to soften the buildings some more.

This next image is processed 2 ways–the first with high clarity and the second with low clarity. I also bumped up the saturation and vibrance in Photoshop for the second image. I like them both, but I think the softening really creates a dreamy feel to the image.

In the next image I used a Nik Soft Mute filter to blur the entire image. I am wondering what it would look like as a fabric or a large framed print.

Finally, here’s my last landscape. I softened the trees in Photoshop and applied a sepia filter to soften the entire scene. I think the mood is quite somber. Compare this version to the original sharp image captured in color below. The photos convey very different moods.

We hope you join all of us this week for Bren’s challenge to and explore the possibilities of creating a softer image. As for me, I’m going to continue to explore various softening techniques in Photoshop–for the entire image or selected parts of it. I can see how it’s a powerful and useful effect for some images.

A very special thanks to Amy for inviting us to explore the differences between East and West (or North and South) last week. I loved her challenge and enjoyed seeing different perspectives within one country or around the world. Thanks to all of you who participated.

It’s Ann-Christine’s turn to lead the next challenge, so be sure to visit her site on Saturday at noon EST.

Until then, wishing you a week filled with hope, satisfaction, and beauty.

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

62 replies »

  1. These are lovely. I’m not a fan of Photoshopping et al, but these are subtly done and quite lovely. It also reminds me that Bren’s posts haven’t been landing in my in-box these days. WP up to its tricks again?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderful to hear that Nes. Since it’s a new technique for me, I appreciate the feedback. I was so happy to get a good fog/mist shot. I’ve been trying to get it right for a while! I hope you can join us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve met the challenge well, Patti. I tend to make my images sharper, so I will enjoy some extra processing time to experiment.
    I love your take on the architectural image. I see I have some work to do to come up with similar quality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, John. I really was surprised at the difference between the clear/color one and the b&w/softened one. It totally changes the mood of the shot. I am sure you are exploring different techniques and will come up with some great examples.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Stunning Patti…. I love those flower shots… and how you have softened the flowers… The House image, great capture and you’ve used monochrome and softness.. brilliantly edited.

    Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome. I tried it with one of my photos, but I think yours softened up because of the trees and how they responded to monochrome. My image did not respond. The statue got almost pitch black, which isn’t vey soft. Bad choice on my part. 🙂


  4. I have to admit that I spend more time sharpening my images than I ever do softening them, Patti. but the results can be so lovely, can’t they? I’m a big fan of Bren’s photos. Your image of Florence is my favourite here, but you know I’m biased.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow, this is an interesting challenge! I don’t think I’ve purposely tried to soften an image…I’ve actually done the reverse. I wish I knew how to use Photoshop…could imagine what amazing thing could be done with it. Hmmmm, will be interesting how to do it on Android phone camera.
    Great pictures Patti!


  6. That is truly a different Florence, isn’t it? It is generally a colorful city, and yet the softness and monochrome brought mystery to the photo. And to be honest, Florence holds so much mystery in its city walls that it speaks volumes. The flowers are brilliant both ways if you ask me, but definitely a difference in softness.

    One thing I learned with your monochrome challenge two weeks ago was how it effective it is in changing the message of the photos. Your last two are a perfect example of that. The color photo draws the eye immediately to the building. The sepia filter with the softness, and my eye is drawn to the walkway. Slows down the photo. Does that make sense?


  7. Loved your approach on this one Patti. The softened flower is lovely and your comment about the stark difference between the moods of the B&W vs color image is spot on! My favorite of the set though is your opener. I loved that image especially

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tina. Thank you! We’ve been on the road this week so I’m reading whenever I can! I hope all’s going well with your travels, too. And thanks for your kind words about the opener. I have been trying to capture the fog for quite some time, so it was rewarding to get this shot. 🙂


  8. Love your choices, Patti! Florence is outstandingly beautiful – but roses, well, they are hard to beat. I also love to see the diffenrences in B&W and colour of that building. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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