Out of focus mistake, or deliberate art?
The beauty in art photography is subjective and can be interpreted in many ways. It can be the way the photographer captures the light, the composition of the image, or the emotions that the image evokes in the viewer. Art photography can tell a story, convey a message, or capture a moment. Some photographers focus on capturing beauty in everyday objects and situations. In contrast, others create abstract images that challenge our perceptions of reality.
The above sounds great. Photography is art, so it can be whatever the artist wants it to be. However, I think most photographers have been under the spell of "sharpness." It seems to me that since the dawn of digital photography, we've been on a journey to achieve maximum sharpness. And during this process, we lost the appreciation for softness.
I know because I've been part of it. Guilty as charged.
But what happens when we get past this need for sharpness? When we start looking at photos differently? And start embracing softness as a part of an artistic expression? Can we undo the mindset?
Of course, the answer is yes. That's what happened to me recently. It did not occur by choice. As I said, I love sharpness. My transformation came slowly during the last year as I started shooting more film. Initially, I wanted the film photos to be as sharp as my digital ones. Still, something started happening to me over time. These images, despite their softness, grew on me. Suddenly, their look seems right. I dare say beautiful.
Incidentally, they don't need any editing. If I try to do the edits I make to digital photos, the result is not good. The combination of film grain, the optical performance of old lenses and, yes, incorrect focusing on my part turned some photos into something beautiful despite all the softness.
It is not surprising that recently, I turned my attention to two photographers who embrace this view. In their ways, they both promote photography as an art. They discuss the art of photography rather than the technology, the cameras, the lenses, and all the things that distract us from the main subject, which is expressing yourself and your artistic views.
Of course, there's a time and place for the technical details. We have to understand what our cameras do to create what we want. But the point I'm making is that we, indeed I, often forget that photography can be more than pixels, dynamic range, and precise autofocus.
I want to finish by saying that I'm not against sharpness. I'm not against anything in photography. I want to tell you about my experience and how easy it is to forget about the art side of photography.
Both softness, out-of-focus, and sharpness are vital tools. You can see this in the work of this fantastic artist, Tine Poppe. She uses sharp photos in her Gilded Lilies project and soft, blurry images in Splash. Check her out here.
Bad technique or art?
I was testing my new 50mm f1.7 lens at maximum aperture. I completely missed the focus. But I still like how the pictures came out.
Another blurry photo. I shot it handheld at 1/30 second. It's not the best photo, and I won’t call it artistic. But I find it nice, pleasant.
On the other hand, some sharpness is welcomed. :-)
Last one. Here’s another soft shot that turns out good. Of course I will say this! It’s my baby :-)
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Pedro-Pierre Guynot de Boismenu