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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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Old 05-22-2011   #1
KenR
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All of the RFF members who anguish over which lens is sharper - the regular or the ASPH are wasting time and money. I just received my B+W Special Portfolio Issue - about half of the photos are blurred or out of focus. No need to bother with expensive lenses! Just shoot away - near subjects, use f/1.4 and set camera at infinity; far subjects, use f/1.4 and set at 3 feet. No thought involved, no time wasted on selective focusing or depth of field - what could be simpler? At least there were no nudes wearing Mardi Gras masks, but there was a blurry chicken. (I feel much better now that I got that off my chest.)
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Old 05-22-2011   #2
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Ahh, you mean the creamy-dreamy issue?
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Old 05-22-2011   #3
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This kind of photography is very trendy at the moment - and it can result in some good images. I sometimes buy "Color" magazine which seems to have a lot of this sort of stuff. I was inspired to try it myself recently. Not saying mine is any good - it was more an experiment.

Just a bit of fun!


_DSC4537a by yoyomaoz, on Flickr


P1020870a by yoyomaoz, on Flickr
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Old 05-22-2011   #4
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I've seen many photos in B&W like what you describe. Also, I made a lens for my Leica IIIf that somewhat mimics this. It isn't something that I like or want to pursue but they do have a feeling different from a regular photo:



and a little cheerier:

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Old 05-22-2011   #5
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannelbrae/5564387963

Finally, I style that works well with my tendency to use scale focus cameras wide open.
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Old 05-22-2011   #6
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Brian, I know what you mean. I've had that style of 50 years. Before that I used Brownies and all my pictures were in focus. Plus, with Verichrome, they were no exposure errors either.
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Old 05-22-2011   #7
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I hate to say this because I love lenses like Summicrons, Heliars, etc, but some of my more interesting (and old timey looking) shots have come from cameras w/ crap lenses and out of focus subjects. Have no idea why.

That shot of Brian's is haunting, and it's a composition that really shouldn't work w/ all of those diagonals going all different angles, but just that little bit of dark in the bottom right balances it. The model was fortuitously placed too w/ the tree line behind her framing her head. We should have a forum just for composition.

Last edited by Steve M. : 05-22-2011 at 16:44.
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Old 05-22-2011   #8
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We all have those, and I agree. One of my friends in 1955 on my granddads street, probably my Brownie (not a Hawkeye):

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Old 05-22-2011   #9
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Old 05-22-2011   #10
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But there is something different about out of focus and blurry. Blurry, to me, is not out of focus it is just a lousy lens. Now a lousy lens can be a really great thing. I thought that I had reached nirvana with a flipped Brownie Hawkeye Flash lens:



But it looked like PhotoShop.

So I tried other homemade lenses to fit on good bodies:



I think this is a almost wide open Instamatic lens on my Leica.

Or a try at a Hollywood Reflex lens on a Pentax 6x7:



Well, the search goes on, basically I think it isn't as easy as it looks.
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Old 05-22-2011   #11
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There seems to be more to this that I had thought. I never fathomed the differences between blurry photos and lousy lens, as most of mine seem to combine the two qualities.

The first one here was from an Argus C3 that had a mis-focusing lens, and the second is basically bad film, bad processing, and a Zorki I w/ shutter issues.







None of these are very blurred though. This one is, the result not of a bad lens, but of a bad photographer, as the lens was on a Super Ikonta 531A.


Last edited by Steve M. : 05-22-2011 at 17:40.
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Old 05-22-2011   #12
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Sorry guys, not blurred enough. These were quite nice. I have gotten the same effect when I have taken an out of focus photo of my shoes with frame #0 - that's what this issue was filled with. I am seaching for my shoe photos to submit for the next special issue.
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Old 05-22-2011   #13
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I love this photo of my dog, Jane. M3 and Serenar 50mm f/1.8.

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Old 05-22-2011   #14
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OK, KenR, take you choice. These are all plastic lenses that it have converted to more substantial bodies.
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Old 05-22-2011   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
... These are all plastic lenses that it have converted to more substantial bodies.
Heh. I did that. When I read about Miroslav Tichy I made this out of a "Capt'n Crunch" binocular:
Pictures from it are here.
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Old 05-22-2011   #16
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I love that Life in the Shadows image. How was that done Peter? Would love to give that a go.
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Old 05-23-2011   #17
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It was HCB that said sharpness is a bourgeois concept...

I never got caught up in the whole sharpness/lens resolution game...
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Old 05-23-2011   #18
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We've all got a blurry photo in our faves list haven't we? This is one of mine. I have more.


Unfettered. by Paolo Bonello, on Flickr
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Old 05-23-2011   #19
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Old 05-23-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101 View Post
Heh. I did that. When I read about Miroslav Tichy I made this out of a "Capt'n Crunch" binocular:
Pictures from it are here.

Very nice!

KenR, last night I remembered that a trick for soft photos (not out of focus) that was used in the 60s-70s: it was to smear Vaseline on a UV, Skylight, or Haze filter. You will have better successful using a SLR or DSLR so you can predetermine the effect.
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Old 05-23-2011   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
This kind of photography is very trendy at the moment

If it's a trend, it's a very long trend. I remember when I was learning how to develop and print, that many of the "seasoned" members at the community darkroom had a "blurry" thing going on.

You could tell that there were two main veins, each with their small dissident core: the younger/newbie ones, always striving to have everything in focus, and have those prints as sharp and contrasty as possible (with MC paper). Their prints would be the flattest.

Then there were the older/seasoned ones, always striving to have their prints have the tones they wanted, really taking their time rinsing/washing their fiber paper. Their prints would be, of course, the wrinkliest.

Then there was the oddball who would have a mix of Anal-Adams-retentiveness when it came to exposure, development, and printing, and then the other extreme where the guy would make it a point to go against common sense and use spent developer, spent fixer, slightly expose film to light before development...and he used Rolleiflex and Hassies.

Anyway...it was the seasoned art students who tended to make those "ghastly", "sickly", "unfocused" prints, while the new students tended to make sharp sharp sharp shots of buildings, walls, gardens, trees...it was literally night and day.

There was one journalist who used the room for nonjournalism work. Best stuff I saw. It was by watching him that I learned a lot.

But I'm on a tangent.

There is a very fine line between "blurry" shots and "lacking discipline". While in some B&W photo magazines I sometimes see what I saw in that darkroom, most of the "trendy blurry" stuff really doesn't work well on a poorly-printed medium such as a newstand magazine. Part of that process is the print itself. That gets lost on the magazine. Magazines are more about "the image" rather than "the work".

Hobbyists haven't been very exposed to the whole spectrum of what is possible in the world of photography. Hard-core wannabe "artists" think they can get away with anything by calling their stuff "art". It takes a very dedicated craftsman/craftswoman to be true to the Photography medium.

There are a lot of people who cut corners, financially, artistically, mentally. These are the kind that tend to spend more time marketing themselves. It is very very very difficult to assess the real worth of one kind of photography when one is bombarded with really mediocre sources and streams of it.

I would not so quick to judge one style based on something one sees in only one type of media.
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Old 05-23-2011   #22
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We must all remember that there are many many shades of grey, and that grey isn't just "grey". Same with "sharpness" and "blurriness".
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Old 05-23-2011   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KenR View Post
All of the RFF members who anguish over which lens is sharper - the regular or the ASPH are wasting time and money. I just received my B+W Special Portfolio Issue - about half of the photos are blurred or out of focus. No need to bother with expensive lenses! Just shoot away - near subjects, use f/1.4 and set camera at infinity; far subjects, use f/1.4 and set at 3 feet. No thought involved, no time wasted on selective focusing or depth of field - what could be simpler? At least there were no nudes wearing Mardi Gras masks, but there was a blurry chicken. (I feel much better now that I got that off my chest.)
As long as it made you feel better. But I can assure you, there is plenty of skill and talent involved in making prints by people like Michael Ackerman and Antoine d'agata...
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Old 05-23-2011   #24
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I think all have touched on the key points - blur to show movement, blur in one area to focus the viewer's attention on another area, etc. That is blur for a reason. I have used it myself, sometimes planned and sometimes not, but NOT as an end unto itself. But, the sense from those in the magazine, when someone produces a portfolio of blurred pictures, is "blur because I can do blur." There seemed (to me) no valid reason other than to produce a "trendy" portfolio of blur.
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Old 05-23-2011   #25
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Old 05-23-2011   #26
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Here's another:
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Old 05-23-2011   #27
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Old 05-23-2011   #28
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may 17th 2011 - Visual Diary von oliverleschke auf Flickr
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Old 05-23-2011   #29
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Old 05-23-2011   #30
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Some very nice samples here.

Often, blur is seen as a defect. Some with a keen eye see it as an effect; like in painting: pointilism would have been seen as madness by pantheists. Impressionism as technical laziness by the realists. Realism as intellectual laziness by cubists.

Etc.

But just grabbing a can of tomato soup does not make you a graphic genius, but merely a graphic commentator.

Etc. etc. etc.


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Old 05-24-2011   #31
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Here are some of mine:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudysho...7626577291755/
I love taking these shots, and I think they help me with learning about light and composition. Taken with the GRD III, but I bet you can photoshop them to print super large!
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Old 05-25-2011   #32
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the first roll from my Voskhod, with self-made red-scale film (Kodak Max 400, i think).
Never can get use to the vertical control setting, hence the blur...
i am quite fond of that dreamy effect
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Old 05-25-2011   #33
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Old 05-25-2011   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Damaso View Post
It was HCB that said sharpness is a bourgeois concept...

I never got caught up in the whole sharpness/lens resolution game...
What Damaso said...
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Old 05-28-2011   #35
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Please excuse me for being the old curmudgeon but I noticed that those who decry the excessive attention to lens resolution and optical performance specs, almost always use expensive Leica's (M6, M7, M9, etc.) and the finest lenses which were not, to my knowledge, designed to provide a "dreamy" look.

Actually, I would think that lens performance means image control - if you want a clear sharp image or a blurred one, you can do it more predictably and with greater control.
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Old 06-02-2011   #36
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This recent shot came to mind immediately for me. But after looking at some of these, maybe this isn't blurry enough! Next time I'll be sure to focus to infinite and beyond!


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Old 06-02-2011   #37
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Quote:
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One of my favorite blurs.

John

Your not on your own in liking this picture. A lovely take, nice and crisp. Well done.

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Old 06-03-2011   #38
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A bit of subtle blur never hurt anyone


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Old 06-03-2011   #39
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Old 06-08-2011   #40
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Out of focus (mistake), but it worked for me.



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