How to Apply a Soft Focus Effect to a Photo in Picasa

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Picasa Soft Focus Effect - Save a Copy

Soft Focus Effect
Picasa has a quick and easy soft focus effect that has some options you may not be aware of. © Sue Chastain

A soft focus effect is great for portraits, when you want to add a soft, dreamy quality to a photo, or when you want to put more emphasis on the subject and tone down background distractions. Picasa has a quick and easy soft focus effect that has some options you may not be aware of.

To begin, I like to work on the copy of my image. Even though Picasa maintains your original picture and allows you to revert your edits, for this effect I want to keep both the original and edited photo in my library.

From the library, select the photo you want to work with and go to Edit > Save a Copy. Picasa will automatically append a number to the end of the filename and add the copy to your library. You will need to scroll to the end of the folder to select the copy of the photo.

Double click on the picture to enter view and edit mode.

02
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Picasa Soft Focus Effect - Crop and Adjust

Picasa Basic Fixes
Before applying the soft focus, you may want to crop and adjust the color and tone of the photo. © Sue Chastain

On the left side of the application window, you will see three tabs--basic fixes, tuning, and effects.

If desired, use the crop option under basic fixes to crop the photo for a better composition. You can also use basic fixes to adjust color and contrast, if desired.

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Picasa Soft Focus Effect - Choose Soft Focus

Picasa Soft Focus
Soft Focus is under the Effects tab of Picasa. © Sue Chastain

When you are happy with the composition, color, and tone of the picture, click the Effects tab, then click on Soft Focus.

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Picasa Soft Focus Effect - Soft Focus Default Might not be Ideal

Picasa Soft Focus
The default settings of Picasa's soft focus might not be ideal. © Sue Chastain

The soft focus is instantly applied, but you may want to adjust the effect. In my photo, the subject is not centered in the picture so I want to move the center of the soft focus effect to the subjects face--in this case, my coonhound, Drifter.

Notice the green crosshairs in the center of the picture preview. This designates the center of the soft focus effect, where the picture will be the sharpest.

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Picasa Soft Focus Effect - Tweaking the Soft Focus Effect

Adjusting Picasa Soft Focus
The soft focus effect can be repositioned, and the size and strength of the effect can be adjusted. © Sue Chastain

If your photo is a portrait, click on the center of the subjects face, otherwise click on the area of the photo you want to emphasize the most. The rest of the photo will gradually fade off to a blur effect.

I find the effect a little to strong for my photo, so I'd like to adjust it further. I do this by nudging the Size slider a bit to the right, and the Amount slider a bit to the left. Experiment with the sliders to get the soft focus effect how you like it, then click Apply.

To save the changes, right click on the photo and choose Save, or press Ctrl-S. This will allow you to see the effect in other photo software you may use. Without saving, the edits are only stored in Picasa's database and can only be seen within Picasa. The copy of the original is also saved in a subfolder of the folder where the picture is saved.