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Focus is over-rated

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by Luke, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke

    off by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    I just got an E-P1 in the mail today and threw on my Super Takumar to try it out. Put it into "high Key" mode (or whatever they call it) to blow out the background and came up with this soft shot our little guy Charlie. It's my new favorite shot. I can't wait to make more new favorite shots with this combo.

    Feel free to add your intentionally out of focus shot, too.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Spanjaart

    Spanjaart Mu-43 Regular

    35
    Sep 6, 2010
    double post
     
  3. Spanjaart

    Spanjaart Mu-43 Regular

    35
    Sep 6, 2010
    Strange thing to call a carpet your guy Charlie. Most dogs are a waste of space, but maybe a twist on the focussing ring could change some minds.
     
  4. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    I thought perhaps the title would make clear my intention of having the dog out of focus. I understand some people prefer having their subject in focus. The dog has not been himself and I thought having him soft and out of focus painted the picture that he hasn't really been "present" the way he usually is.
    I'm still new to photography so I appreciate getting feedback (especially when doing something as bold as intentionally shooting a shot out of focus). Any other input?
     
  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I get the idea you're going after, but I think you went too far out of focus. A nice soft focus is more like a very slight mis-focus, which I think would have produced a better result.

    Or you could use an actual soft-focus lens, the soft focus Art Filter, or produce the effect in post, while still keeping the details to work with. The soft focus achieved through a flawed lens with spherical aberration is best.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. SMaturin

    SMaturin Mu-43 Veteran

    243
    Apr 30, 2011
    New York's Backyard
    Here is an experiment.

    Soft focus is supposed to be romantic. Show the picture to the lady dogs in the neighborhood and see if it works.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  7. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    I think it would have worked a lot better if at least his front paw was in focus. That would make it look a lot less like you simply missed the focus and more intentional.
     
  8. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Nice attempt. I don't mind the effect. I think if any part of the dog were in focus it would look like your focus was off--the sharp carpet bothers me. I think processing would help it better.

    Ned is right, this is not what you get from a soft-focus lens--they can have really high resolving powers. But you can pick up a soft-focus filter if you want to experiment. Or just play more with out-of-focus images. I am not quite so ready to reject the idea that out-of-focus does not work. It can be very impressionist/abstract where you are working with just light and color.
     

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  9. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    SoCal
    Hikari is right ...

    434445300_aMPnj-O-1.
    LensBaby

    Is that a Westy?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. This is one I'd tried a while ago, although I don't think that it is a particularly successful example. I think it just looks like I've forgotten to add a subject.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/55915417@N08/5706090205/" title="PB270718-PPR Olympus Pen E-P1 Micro Four Thirds 4/3 Brisbane by Lucky.penguin, on Flickr"> 5706090205_b6e9134c6a_z. "640" height="480" alt="PB270718-PPR Olympus Pen E-P1 Micro Four Thirds 4/3 Brisbane"></a>
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention... there are some other things you can try for a similar soft focus effect. Try a light smear of vaseline on a cheap clear filter you don't want (UV, Skylight, or something), or wrap some nylon hose over the front of the lens.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  13. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    Thanks everyone for the insights. Maybe my next question should be "how do you keep from getting emotionally involved with your shots?"

    The dog had been VERY sick for about a week and then rebounded and then had a relapse (and then a not very great diagnosis) so I was pretty emotional and wanted to try to capture that feeling. I have plenty of dog snapshots....oh my god do I have doggie snapshots. So when I get something that approaches being a good photograph (or at least something a little more involved) I start to feel a little too good about it.

    Now after hearing some reasoned and excellent critiques (except for that 'dogs are a waste of space' comment) I can see it for what it is..... a blown attempt. I just tried cropping about the sharply focused carpet bits and it helps, but the rest of the shot still lacks something. If anyone has tips on getting distance from your photos so one can become a better editor, I'm open to those, too.

    And keep showing those out of focus shots. When I see good ones, I love 'em. I'm gonna try another one today.
     
  14. Black & white, slight crop? It seems to give the hair a bit more definition.

    I hope the little guy is doing better now.

    <a href="http://s883.photobucket.com/albums/ac33/ttlonline/m43/?action=view&amp;current=Outoffocus.jpg" target="_blank"> Outoffocus. "640" alt="Photobucket"></a>
     
  15. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    Thanks Nic,
    I definitely prefer it in black and white. I had tried upping the contrast, but because of the blown out areas brought on by the high key I thought it just drew extra attention to his isolated rear end. I now see the photo is unslavageable, though I do like the way the contrast has made his hair "pop" a little more.

    We're in the "learning to monitor how he feels" stage. He has Addison's disease which means his adrenal glands aren't working properly. One of the main symptoms is lethargy. He now will get a shot once every 25 days (for the rest of his life), but then beyond that he will still have bad days which if you catch them in time and give him a pill, he'll pull right out of it and be fine.

    He got a pill yesterday after taking that photo. Today he's our regular little puppy again.....chasing the cats and raising hell, ready for his morning walk. I'm glad I have my buddy back.
     
  16. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    479
    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    True: if you wrap it over the model, he appears like Michael Jackson.
    The technique has its use, though: take some dental shots appearing on this site...
     
  17. I considered smearing some vaseline on my eyeballs after seeing those...
     
  18. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    628
    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    You don't. Unless you're taking product photos, IMO we all want to tell some story with the images we capture. Emotion is a powerful additive to the impact a story has, and regardless of what feedback we give you here, the simple truth is that the photo is successful as long as YOU feel it reflects the emotion and the story you're trying to tell with it.

    Lots of good feedback here about OOF techniques though.
     
  19. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hi Luke,

    You like it right? At the end of the day, that's all that matters......

    Alan
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Luke
    Thanks Alan.... it's good to be reminded of that once in awhile. I just REALLY want to be a good photographer one day. I like most of them, but I'd rather LOVE them. I also feel that if you don't find fault with your work, you'll never try to get any better.:thumbup: