Flowers & Soft Focus Photography Tips

Soft focus photography from Kathleen Clemons of a pink flower close up with a yellow interior.

Kathleen Clemons is a New England based photographer living on the beautiful coast of Maine. Primarily a nature photographer, she is known for her creative use of natural light, her unique and stunning compositions, her soft focus photography and for her mastery of all things Lensbaby. Her work is represented by FogStock, ChromaZone Images, The Jaynes Gallery, Corbis and Getty Images.

What I Used:

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark III
  2. Lensbaby Muse
  3. Lensbaby Soft Focus Optic
  4. Special multi-holed aperture disk that comes with the Soft Focus Optic, the one with the smallest center opening, which supplies an aggregate aperture of f/4.8
  5. F/2.8 aperture disk stacked on top of multi-holed aperture disk
  6. Overcast, cloudy day
  7. Metadata: ISO 500, Shutter Speed 1/800 sec

How It Came Together:

  1. I shot this photo last summer at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine, one of my favorite places to photograph flowers.
  2. It was an overcast day, which supplies wonderfully soft, even lighting for photographing flowers.
  3. What initially attracted me here was the contrast between the one Coneflower in a sea of pink Phlox. I am always on the lookout for contrasts, curves and color in my photos, and this scene had them all.
  4. The Coneflower was also in pristine condition, so important when you are creating flower portraits.
  5. The Phlox was a good distance behind the Coneflower so I knew I could isolate the one flower and softly blur the background.
  6. I chose my Soft Focus photography Optic because it consistently provides the look I want when I photograph flowers.
  7. The aperture disks I chose allowed me to get the definition I wanted in the Coneflower while softly blurring the rest of the photograph. The special multi-holed disk enhances the softness of the Soft Focus Optic. Dropping the f/2.8 on top of it covers a few of those holes, toning down the softness to just the right amount I was looking for in this image.
  8. Adding the +4 filter from the Macro Kit allowed me to focus closer to my subject. (I always have both the +4 and +10 in my pocket when I am photographing flowers.)
  9. I shot several different compositions, verticals as well as horizontals, and this was my favorite.
  10. This photo required very little post-processing, a little selective lightening on the Coneflower petals in Photoshop and I was finished. One of my favorite things about photographing with my Lensbaby lenses is the lack of post-processing I need to do with my photos.

See more of Kathleen's soft focus photography here.

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