image: unreal path

I’ve been taking a good number of intentionally out–of–focus photos for a few. But why?

It started with some observations:

  1. A Peruvian acquaintance from I lived in Dublin used to deliberately shoot out–of–focus shots. I was intrigued enough to try the technique myself.
  2. I found that, when I’d trying to balance the horizon on some images, I screw up my eyes so I can’t see the detail, only the overall form.
  3. Sometimes, I find the out–of–focus background of an image more interesting than the in–focus subject.

From that, I realised that out–of–focus shots emphasise form and composition at the expense of detail.

I also find that, when an out–of–focus shot is combined with contrast and colour exaggeration, they become dreamy, imaginary, unreal.

By out–of–focus, I mean deliberately unfocusing the lens, not moving the camera, (e.g. blur). Out–of–focus loses detail, but you can still see and recognise large objects. Blur can lose that too, so is less useful at emphasising form. Blur does have other uses in composition, of course.

But what kind of compositions work best when shot out–of–focus? For that matter, how much out–of–focus? That’s what I’m experimenting with at the moment. I’m not ready to make conclusions, but it’s clear to me that some shots work better than others.