It's good to have an excuse to shoot with the 135mm Soft Focus. A one of a kind lens, really, allowing you to get shots of a quality you simply can't produce by postprocessing alone. It has a separate rotating control for "amount of soft focus", which basically introduces a controlled amount of spherical aberration into the image.
The intention here is the classic late 70s / early 80s overdone glamour look, loads of glow and softness and light and warmth. To achieve that, a lot of lighting on the background is needed, and to allow the glow to diffuse through the model rather than simply blowing out highlights and deepening shadows, it's necessary to almost entirely eliminate shadows in the image - at least sharp ones. Everything has to be diffuse, and then the glow can just about be made to work. It's pretty hard not to overdo the effect with this lens, and when overdone, everything just looks dazzling rather than comfortable.
Composition was intended to evoke a lot of 70s style magazine work where the shots are faux-candid or impromptu portraits, the camera briefly catches the model's eye in a stolen moment. There's a doorway or a wall and a hint of background detail just to give it some setting and tonal balance to the composition, despite the background really being lost to an aethereal dreamy blur.
Like many of the uncommon lenses I've been shooting with lately, this requires live view to be able to see what's really going on, because what you see in the viewfinder is nothing like what arrives on the sensor.
The majority of the actual editing was mostly work with curves to amplify the warm colours. Slight rotation, crop, cloning out sensor dust, curves curves curves, dodging and burning especially to bring out the shades of the hair, hue adjustment on the background, resize, and selective sharpen.
No doubt this photo will be slated by many viewers for the "photoshopped soft focus effect"!
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An appealing image that fulfils the challenge brief
What a lovely image but you were unfortunately accurate with your prediction, at least you have the appreciation of a couple of people here. She is a lovely model and her pose is classic and very appealing adding a very sensual mystique. The only thing I might have altered is the crop to exclude the dark band of tiles, it gives away the fact that it has been shot into a shower/bathroom, the background tiles with this exposure are not immediately apparent without the blue band, it reveals too much and detracts just a little. Once more Eugene thanks for the illuminating notes you have included, you really do have some unique lenses, I like the way you are happy to experiment with these unusual lenses to create something genuine as opposed to relying and inevitably faking a less convincing result through PS.
It's nice to read your comments. Wondered how you got this soft focus in the first place. I used a soft focus filter way back (25years ago) on my old Nikon camera's to get a similar effect. The problem it was too much uncontrollable on film. I can still mount that old filter on my Canon 40mm pancake lens but barely do it. I am searching on internet more information about the lens you used here.