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Black scarf technique?
Old 12-06-2005, 10:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Just curious, does anyone use Rolando's "black scarf" lens technique? Or is it obsolete in these days of digital & photoshop? I can't find the scarf item he mentioned at wal-mart... anyone know of an alternative?

Thanks,
Dan
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Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-06-2005, 12:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've used it and you can get interesting effects from it. You can always simulate these kind of effects in Photoshop, but some will argue that they'll never be quite the same. The problem with these kind of techniques at the time you shoot is that you reduce the quality of the image you start with. Information has already been lost or distorted by the time you bring the photo into your editor. So I usually skip those kind of techniques and just do it in photoshop. But its better to try it and find out for yourself. You might see a quality of light and softness that you really like that you feel is too hard to do in PS. Keep in mind that the fstop you use affects the quality of softness you get.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-06-2005, 01:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use it indoors with my longer lenses. I have a 77mm filter from which I removed the glass element and replaced with some black veil material. I think it is a little courser than Rolando's scarf. It smoothes out skin textures. I wouldn't recommend it outdoors, it dramatically reduces contrast and induces haze.

Anything I can do during shooting to minimize my time in post production is a plus. "Fixing it" in Photoshop equates to long hours behind the computer instead of the camera.

Another interesting (Bad!) effect is to use a scarf with a wide angle lens. Especially with a tight f-stop where you can see the mesh in the photo.


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Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-07-2005, 12:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I used the black veil material that Olli described. It is available at fabric stores. I use it on my 105/1.8 and 135/2.0 in the studio only. For me it was for smoothing the skin. Because the effect works on more than just the skin you may want to add props (jewlery, wine glass, etc.) to add some highlights.

I'm now shooting without the diffuser because, as RFS said, you can simulate the effect in PS. I can get the sharpness and contrast that the lenses were designed for and alter the image in PS as I require.

If you learn to use the black net diffuser you'll have the best of both worlds at your disposal.

-- Dave

 
 
Re: Black scarf technique - Alternative
Old 12-07-2005, 09:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Hi Dan.

I wasn't sure what Rolando's technique was, so I had to go and check it out on the tips page.
I was shown this technique for creating a soft focus filter many years ago, but with a different source for the filter material.

Talk nicely to one of your models and see if she has any old snagged black nylon stockings she can give you. I know Rolando claims to only pay 1.99 for his scarf, but this is guerrilla photography JimmyD style! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] Of course, if you have to go and buy a pair it still shouldn't break the bank.

You simply cut a small sqaure of material from the nylon (about 3"x3") and attach it to the front of the lens with a rubber band. You then gently stretch the material taut under the band. See illustration below (you can trim off surplus material with scissors if you prefer).
The advantage with this material is that it will stretch, and the more you stretch it the more sheer it becomes. So now you have a variable soft focus filter, that takes up no room at all in your camera bag.



Anyway, in my opinion, there are better places to hang a scarf.



Personally I tend to agree with some of the other replies and I prefer to keep maximum sharpness and detail for as long as I can. In the past I might have used the filter if I was shooting transparencies, because you could not soften the image later. However, if I was shooting for later printing then I would save the filter for use on the enlarger lens.

I think I would adopt the same philosophy for digital. It is easier to soften the detail in a sharp image than it is to try and recover detail from a soft image.

Hope this is useful to you.
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Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-11-2005, 12:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've used everything from the model's stockings to vaseline on a filter, to the manufactured star and softening filters. Although I have always been happy with the results, Smith points out that you have already degraded the potential of the image by using the diffuser before printing.

Before Photoshop and other such programs, it was possible to take the photograph without a diffusor, but then add the effect during printing. I've done this with great success by simply using a nylon over the enlarger lens when in the darkroom. This way, you have the maximum potential sharpness if you ever want it, but still get the desired effect. Today, you would just shoot the image normally, and then add the softening in PS.

Here is a digital image taken with a Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8, most likely at f/5.6. One of the model's stockings was stretched over the front element and held in place by one of her scrunchies (those rubber band things that keep women's hair in pony tails). Again, I like the effect, but I can't ever make this image as sharp as it could have been...

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Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-11-2005, 06:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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IMPO, I think you captured the desired effect here. This is a beautiful photo, so I don't understand why there would be a need for sharpening on this particular photo. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]
I know your just trying to make point but I'm just curious.
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Re: Black scarf !!
Old 12-19-2005, 04:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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and i thought tis wuz a thread about using scraves on a body during a foto shoot!!!

cool idea!!

nice pix toooooooo!!
 
 
Re: Black scarf technique?
Old 12-24-2005, 10:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I picked up the black scarf technique back in the 80's when shooting film from Nancy Brown, a well known people shooter. I used it often, but as everyone points out, once you use it you can't undo the effect and its in the image forever. Now that I am shooting mostly digital, I rarely if ever use it anymore, and prefer to post process to get similar results in photoshop.

The part I like about using photoshop instead is that I can selectively apply it the skin areas, or anything else I want softened, and leave everything else tack sharp. I like to apply it to skin, a reduced effect to the hair and sometimes the background, yet leave things like the eyes, lips, clothing, jewelry, etc, in sharp focus. The combination of the two results in a more pleasing effect in my opinion.

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