A Word About Focus – Mar ’18

I read somewhere that when submitting photos to a competition, show, or gallery review  – don’t even consider images that are not in sharp focus. It’s good advice from someone who probably has more knowledge of these things than I. But I think there is a place for artistic use of the intentional blur in photography – there always has been.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that shooting through my rain-soaked car windshield was beneficial to the random fluctuation of focus and the cool distortion effects that the flowing water created. [At least I think so.] In this post I’m showing some examples of sharp and soft focus imagery. The blurriness is intentional – to create an illusion of movement, also to add an abstract expressionist quality to the image.

Our eyes don’t see all in sharp focus.
[Especially when we get older].

Our peripheral vision is always blurry, but a good camera lens has the potential to hold focus over the full field of its view. With enough light and a fine grain film or a high camera resolution, foreground and background can both be in the same sharp focus.  A viewer can see a print of a huge landscape in focus as long as the size and viewing distance of the print fills the viewer’s central sight. For this reason, I’ll sometimes soften parts of an image and keep other areas in sharp focus, where I want to direct the attention of the viewer. With this technique, I mimic natural vision in a photograph.

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“Capturing the ‘perfect image’ is a combination of skill, patience, and serendipity. It’s always satisfying to get the picture I seek, but typically after image capture I bring my photos to another level. I see the shot as a beginning, something I can get ‘painterly’ with – to make it more conceptual, abstract, or to give it visual richness. As darkroom technique has always been an essential part of the photographer’s mastery of imagery – Photoshop is my darkroom. This process of enhancement with Photoshop completes my relationship with the image.”

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