How To Use Vaseline To Create Soft Focus

Do you know how to use Vaseline to create soft focus in your photos? Vaseline can be used to create either a soft, dreamlike focus on traditional shots, or you can go a step further and use it to help you step up your artistic experimentation to new levels.

What You'll Need

  • A tripod (or other stable surface
  • Vaseline (or other brand of petroleum jelly
  • An absorbent, soft cloth

Step 1: Set up the Camera

Set the camera on the tripod to stabilize it. This technique won't work with in-hand camera operation. Next, set your camera to Manual mode. You will need to be able to adjust your settings to get this effect just right.

Compose the shot as you normally would for a regular shot. Do this before you you add the Vaseline so you can see what the "real" version of the shot will look like, before you add your artistry to it.

Step 2: Apply the Vaseline

Carefully smear a very small amount of Vaseline on your filter. Wipe or wash your hands immediately, because getting Vaseline on other parts of your camera can be damaging. There's no point in getting one great, artistic shot if your camera is ruined afteward!

While looking through the camera's viewfinder, move the jelly around. To get a traditional "dreamy" look, smear the jelly around the edges of the filter. Or, for a more abstract, artsy effect, consider moving the hello around in different directions. You can either use your finger or something else soft like a cotton swab to create your designs. Remember to think in opposites: If you want vertical lines in your image, make horizontal lines on your filter.

Make adjustments to your shot, in terms of focus, exposure, etc.  Finally, take the shot! Check your work in the preview screen and make any necessary adjustments to get the shot you want. Have fun with it!

Note: You can also use this effect to create motion blur in your photos. Apply the Vaseline onto the lens and take the shot. Then, clean the lens and reapply after each shot. It make be a time-consuming approach, but it's an inexpensive and effective way to create a blurry effect around your subject.

Photography is about artistry and experimentation. Using Vaseline to create a soft focus on your image can be a great way to elevate a shot from ordinary to something unpredictable and fabulous. Remember that it's only Vaseline, and it can be wiped off and the image discarded if you aren't happy with the results. But, if you give it a try, you never know what amazing results you might end up with.