Half-week homework: Losing focus

Feeling like you can’t hone in on a direction for your photography? It can be frustrating to lack clarity in your efforts! Rather than accepting defeat, let’s continue with our philosophy of redirecting the bad into something good and turn that mental fuzz into a physical lack of focus for this week’s assignment.

A perfectly-focused shot is well worth chasing, but a perfectly-defocused shot can be just as beautiful sometimes. (Anyone who has ever taken their glasses off downtown will know exactly what I mean.) See what sort of textural beauty you can extract from the world by flipping over to MF and cranking that ring the “wrong” direction.

  • An out-of-focus image doesn’t have to sacrifice identifiability. Lots of people have pictures of the Eiffel Tower, but not as many have an unusual portrait like the one below!
  • This project is best undertaken at night or, even better, at sunrise or sunset. Points of light in high contrast to a surrounding darkness tend to have the most visual appeal.
  • Look for unusual light sources or lights arranged in unusual patters. When you take them into abstraction, these are the qualities that will give the image its character.
  • Choose your lens carefully! You might think that your lens choice will be less important if you’re not trying to get sharp results, but you would be wrong. In essence, you’re taking the bokeh out of the background, so it stands to reason that you’ll want a lens with a nice, wide aperture shape that shapes the light pleasantly. A “nifty 50” is a great (and in many cases inexpensive) choice, available for just about any lens mount.
  • Another piece of gear that might help: a macro focusing rail. These are great for getting a stable lock on any very specific focus point, whether that’s in or out. Dialing into a crisp shot then adjusting your camera minutely is a great way to experiment with this process and learn to use your gear in new ways. Click here to check out the ProMaster MR1.
  • Post-processing recommendations: darken highlights to bring out as much detail in your light blobs as possible, increase saturation since there won’t be as much form to rely on, and increase the contrast of the image overall.

Show off your impressionist visions on our Facebook page or on Instagram, tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework.

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