I spent the majority of last year working on my focus skills: focus at wide open apertures (shallow depth of field), focus on moving subjects, focus in strong backlighting, back button focus, focus in low light, etc, etc, etc…. I also learned things I had no idea about – like the fact that after I had carefully chosen my focus point, my camera (or yours) could decide there wasn’t enough contrast in that spot and pick a totally different spot to focus on. So then I had to learn about where to put my focus point to guarantee that my camera would focus there. Lots and lots of trial and error but it paid off and my focusing skills are much better for it.
At the beginning of this year I found myself yearning to explore a bit more on the creative side of things. I started playing with intentionally out of focus shots. You can see a few examples in Week 1 of my 365 Project. And like most things, I found that I couldn’t just put my camera on manual focus, give the focus ring a spin and expect greatness. There is an art to out of focus images that I didn’t realise existed. There are degrees of out of focus – too little and it looks like a mistake. Too much and you loose all structure. And even in the middle, there are points where it makes your eyes hurt and then there are points that are interesting.
I decided to do a little experiment one Sunday afternoon as I walked the kids home from their grandmother’s. Her building has this lovely rock garden in the middle courtyard, and the kids love to play there every time we leave. On this particular day, it was approaching sunset (golden hour we photographer’s call it!) but the sky was a bit grey in between bursts of that golden light. My daughter had on a flowing pink dress and the whole scene just seemed to lend itself to trying out some intentionally out of focus images. Added to this was the fact that the week before she has started Kindy and I was feeling a bit “out of focus” in terms of who my little girl was now – no longer a preschooler but just one week into being a big school kid. There were changes as she stepped up to her new role in the house and certainly changes in our relationship now that she wasn’t by my side five days a week. We were in a period of transition, and focus was indeed a bit blurry…..
So as the kids played, I snapped and below are the results… I think some work better than others. My husband says some still make his eyes hurt. I love the ones that look a bit like an Impressionist painting the best. They were all shot with my 50mm at around f/2. I would love to know what you think so leave me a comment if you are so inclined. And if you decide to try it yourself, I’d love to see what you come up with!