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Image editing tutorial - Soft focus

Step 6: Add some blur

To produce the soft-focus effect, we need to add a slight blur to the upper layer. Go to the Filters menu, roll down to Blur and select Gaussian Blur. This is a mathematically calculated fine blur which is easy to control precisely.

In the control window, adjust the level of blur to suit your picture and taste. I’m exaggerating the effect here somewhat, and also using quite a small picture, so a blur radius of 5.0 pixels should do the trick. As long as you have the preview box checked, you can see the effect of altering the setting on the image.

Step 7: Make it glow

To add a romantic glow to the picture, we can adjust the histogram levels of the blurred layer. Click on the Enhance menu, move your cursor down to Adjust Lighting, and select Levels.

This brings up the levels histogram window, which can be used to make fine adjustments to brightness and contrast. Under the graph in the middle of the window, you’ll see three sliders, a black one on the left, grey in the middle and white on the right. Grab the white slider and drag it to the left. You’ll notice that the lighter areas of the picture increase in size and brightness, and the number in the right of the three input levels boxes changes. The amount of adjustment necessary will depend on your picture, but for this image a setting of 200 works well.

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