The Norphos Blur Set by Norbert Esser can be downloaded for free from Adobe
Studio Exchange (http://share.studio.adobe.com
Esser explains it this way: "This set of three different kinds of blur
will help you to have a photo look instead of the `normal' CG blur
look." The set contains three Photoshop Actions: Hamilton Blur is based
on the dreamy photographic stylings of David Hamilton; Loop Blur is a mixture
of "bloom" blurring techniques that can be applied ("looped")
many times until you get the desired effect; Overbloom is designed to mimic
the kind of blur created by overexposure and overdevelopment of film images.
Esser tested the Action set on a German version of Photoshop CS but I found
that it performed equally well on Photoshop CS2.
from North Platte, Nebraska, is a beautiful and vivacious model
who I photographed last Halloween in a most sincere pumpkin patch.
The original image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D with an EF
135mm f/2.8 SF lens that was set for sharp focus. The soft focus
effects were added with Norbert Esser's free Norphos Blur
Set, specifically the Hamilton Blur Action.
Control Panel Secrets
There are no rules of thumb about how much blur or soft focus to apply to any
image. My best advice, as Emeril says, is to "season to taste,"
but that doesn't mean you can't have a few Photoshop tricks up your
First of all, don't be afraid to yank those control panel sliders to the
extreme ends to see what effect this produces. Even after you apply a filter,
there's always the UNDO command waiting in the wings and I promise you
that no pixels will be harmed while performing this maneuver.
is not a professional model but she has a sparkling personality
that comes through when she's photographed. This portrait
was softened by creating a duplicate layer (Layer>Duplicate
Layer) then applying B+W's (www.schneideroptics.com) Soft
Focus filter to that duplicate layer, then Fading it (Edit>Fade
Soft Focus) to keep it from getting too soft. I used the Eraser
tool (Press E: Mac or Win) and erased the areas around her eyes,
allowing them to be sharp (on the background layer) while keeping
the rest of the image in soft focus.
Second, don't forget the FADE option. After applying any filter, you
can reduce its effect by applying the Fade command (Edit>Fade...) that
becomes available only at that time. Use the slider to apply the filter at anywhere
from 1 percent to 99 percent to create the desired soft focus or blurry effect.
Lastly, if all else fails, use a blur/soft focus layer. Start the process by
making sure your image file is as good as it can be, then add a duplicate layer
(Layer>Duplicate Layer). Apply a filter to the duplicate layer, not the background
image below. Then lower that layer's Opacity setting to allow part of
the bottom layer to show through. For even more control you can erase part of
the duplicate layer to let 100 percent of the original file show through. Use
the Eraser tool to erase the blur/soft focus (on the duplicate layer) around
the subject's eyes to allow the sharpness of the background layer to show
through. This is an especially good trick for portraits because the sharpness
of the subject's eyes is critical in getting the viewer's attention,
so this technique gives the impression of sharpness while maintaining overall