Digital Photography Techniques

Dreamy In-Camera Soft Focus Effect

With many cameras, you can achieve a soft-focus look to your images, while still keeping features sharp. This done by taking one out-of-focus image, combined with an in-focus image of the same subject. Although my usual camera is a Nikon, I am sure that this feature is available in many cameras.

 To make the image, I first turned on Multiple Exposure Mode in my camera Shooting Menu. I set it for two shots and turned Auto Gain on in order to automatically balance the two images in the exposure.

Next set your camera on a tripod, because the two images need to line up precisely. For the pruposes of this demonstration, I grabbed the first thing to hand, which happened to be a half-empty bottle of Bourbon (don't judge me).

Here's a picture taken normally with one exposure:

With Multilple Expoure Mode set, I turned on manual focus and turned the focus ring on my lens until the picture was slightly out of focus. I took the picture, then turned autofocus on and took a second picture. The result was the picture below, which shows out-of-focus elements, but sharp edges and print are clearly visible:

A tip is to not put the out-of-focus image too out-of-focus, or the halo will spread too wide. The technique works particularly well for photographing flowers. Give it a try!