Learning How to Focus

ancient urban 4, photograph

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I have a strong preference for photographic images that are partially out of focus. They seem to reside in that in-between, on the edge place that I find most interesting.

They remind me of the moment when you wake up from a dream and some elements of your consciousness are from the dream state while some are from your newly wakened state.

Finding just the right mix of abstract/literal, in focus/out of focus, distorted/straight is a challenge. I find that it’s a fine line one balances on. A little too far in either direction just feels off somehow. This actually adds an additional challenge for me as an artist, which provides a little extra creative juice to add to the mix.

Of course, this is all subject to personal taste. There are definitely folks who just have no interest in photography that isn’t tack sharp, infinite depth of field, etc.

For those of you in this camp, I refer you back to Henri Cartier-Bresson…

5 responses to “Learning How to Focus

  1. I am always amazed at how much we think alike. I have written somewhere or another about that state between consciousness and dreaming, in regards to my work.

    Terrific shot too.

  2. Hi Bob,
    Great site, so impressed that I came to the blog finding more to appreciate. I relate to your ideas on focus, and agree it is a thematic/ stylisitc juncture. My own work was extremely linear, but I gradually was drawn toward the more painterly-seeing the strokes. Your comments remind me of this, wherein the goal for the photo to become art passes through effects. I notice the way I am drawn to images not entirely focussed, and how some photos sacrifice focus in one area to get it in another. The picture of the bank is intriguing, not necc. historical. In the church photo the focus really seems to indicate a message, and I think relates to the dark areas.
    In general I admire your willingness to sacrifice the crystal like focus most people covet. I have been a closet photographer and your work is inspirational. Thanks for posting your work!!

  3. I believe pixel peepers are missing out on the real meaning of the medium. My immediate feeling when I see an image is most important to me. I couldn’t help but think of the pictorialists while reading this article. I love your work, especially the images from the Dry Creek Valley and the Laguna! You are right in my backyard.

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