Daily Archives: January 18, 2019

Soft Focus is NOT “Out of Focus”

Vintage Soft Focus

Have you ever thought about these “soft focus” lenses that are out there? Ever wondered why anyone would want them in this modern age of digital post processing? Do you need one? Well, the answers may surprise you.

First let’s travel back to the 1930s and 40s when America was at the height of Hollywood Glamour. Back in those days one of the tools for making that soft and glowing glamour look was to use Vaseline on a clear glass filter. The Photographer could manipulate the layer to be thick on the perimeter and less so or even none on the face. This was done in an era where film had to be processed and printed largely by hand and took time. Getting it right with a technique that was at best only somewhat consistent required someone who was rather adept at the skill of prepping the lens for the glam shots.

As time marched on the filter companies began producing soft effect filters such as a ‘diffuser’, ‘softener’, ‘duto’, ‘centerspot’ and many more. These and others developed a following and many a page was written about the differences in the various types and why one is better than the other. There are notable differences in the way the various filters achieve a soft effect. The one key problem was having the effect isolated to specific areas. For example having tack sharp eyes and lips but a soft look everywhere else.

In the modern age of Photoshop, we can do some nice dreamy effects and can even imitate some of the style used over the years. But doing it right means taking a fair amount of time in post to pull it off. So enter the soft focus lens. I have two of them, the Canon FD 85mm f/2.8 Soft Focus and the slighter newer Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Soft Focus. The former is an ideal portrait length for full frame waist up or even head and shoulders. A tight head shot might require getting uncomfortably close to the model. The latter gives a step or two more room when doing head shots. My personal feelings on this type of shot are that they are ideally suited for the glamour “close-up” shot. In that case the EF 135mm has an edge.

Read the rest of the story here…

Bill and Jeff are Back!

Both Jeff Martz and Bill Lemon have been very popular guests at PhotoFair and we are certainly delighted to have them back again.

Jeff will expand his interesting and dynamic talks on historical figures in Photography.

Bill Lemon will focus on some different lighting and lens work techniques beyond just Glamour in a new presentation with a live model on stage.

Jeff Martz History of Photography Lecture Series,

Part 2:  The Pioneers of Photography
Early 19th century photography develops under the pressure of many imperatives.  An intrepid group of dedicated amateurs explore the artistic potential of the calotype.  The public, eager for images of themselves, creates a massive new democratic market for portraiture.  The first professional studios respond with pioneering daguerreotype and collodion work that set the course for what the form will become.  Join photographer and art historian Jeffrey Martz as he introduces photographic revolutionaries like Anna Atkins, Hill & Adamson, Southworth & Hawes and more in an open forum featuring the best-possible reproductions.

10:30am on the PhotoFair Stage

FREE Demo: Portrait Lighting Secrets
with Bill Lemon

Famed Glamour photographer and author Bill Lemon’s presentations always draw a crowd!

This time Bill will share his knowledge of portrait lighting techniques using basic equipment and backgrounds to produce stunning images. Learn how to use light to create drama and enhance your subjects!

Bill will be using a live model to demonstrate.

12:00pm on the PhotoFair Stage http://www.photofair.com

It’s Official, Seawood is Moving!

11988457_10154219368419816_4795436117813018219_nSeawood Photo has been serving Marin County’s photo community since 1947. During that entire 68 year period they have done business from the same building and store front as they did from day one.

But now an opportunity has arisen that will give Seawood’s customers the ability to see more merchandise, enjoy a superior classroom for seminars and photo classes, and have on site free parking!

Seawood is expected to open the new location at the corner of 4th and F streets in San Rafael, CA in mid-October; it’s just about a mile or so down the road from the current location. Please visit Seawood at www.seawood.com or on Facebook or Twitter for more information.