“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” ~ Ansel Adams
I have always been intrigued by the desire in photographers for producing razor-sharp images. I mean, why should every tree, every cloud, every cat whisker be defined clearly and sharply. In real life, when I look at a cat I don’t admire each and every individual hair on its body. Or admire the clarity of its eyes. Or when I look at a tree, I don’t see how sharply delineated its leaves are. I just enter the presence of its being. When I take a photograph, it’s because the beauty before me has touched me somehow and I would like to capture it forever.
Sometime ago I attended a short photography course and the tutor went on and on about the technicalities of taking a photo and started disparaging people whose photos were less than technically perfect when a student piped up and asked, “What if we take photos that are technically perfect but creatively mediocre?” Hmmmm… The tutor was thrown for a moment and rallied by saying, “Well, there has to be a balance.”
Life, after all, is not razor-sharp. For the most part, life’s issues are muddled and the solutions, at times, look blurry. Our perspectives are not always clear and sometimes we choose to take the hazy view rather than clear view. Isn’t our art an extension of our life?
The following is an excerpt from an article in D-Photo I came across recently that so encapsulates what I’ve been thinking.
“Today we have an obsession with image sharpness. Camera manufacturers attempt to trump each other on focus technology. The Olympus OMD has a five-point focus system. Canon has applied for patents over technology which allows you to focus your image after it has been taken. Adobe Photoshop has recently released camera-shake-reduction software.
Is the future definition of a good image one that is razor sharp?Going back 50 years, our tolerance for sharpness was certainly much more relaxed. Focus accuracy was determined by the dexterity of our fingers to manually focus. Richard Avedon’s legendary photo book Nothing Personal, for example, features several out-of-focus images.
So, what is the future of photography? It’s the same as it always has been and likely always will be. No matter the advances in technology, how you see will always matter more than the equipment you use to capture an image. For over 50 years Daido Moriyama used the same Ricoh compact camera – today he is widely considered a legend in street photography.
The future of photography will place ever more emphasis on developing your own voice. More than any other time in the history of photography, the digital arena gives us accessible, powerful and creative tools for self discovery and expression. A photographer’s intent is more important than the medium. Developing how we see must transcend the device we see it with and the software we produce it with, lest we become slaves to equipment and processes.”
– Chris van Ryan in D-Photo (NZ) Feb-March 2015 issue
AMEN to that! The photo of the tulip above was sharp to begin with, but I wanted to convey a sense of softness and feeling of ethereal beauty I had felt in the real tulip. So, I added a bit of blur to bring out the softness that was inherent in the flower.