Discovery and camera seeing
Today I was reminded again of the power of limited depth of field...by accident. A little wattlebird had landed in a casuarina behind the foredune at Lighthouse Beach. I raised the camera and put my eye to the viewfinder. What I saw was a vibrating branch; the bird had flown. Despite there being no feathered target in the frame, I half-pressed the shutter button and the focus motor of the lens whirred, hunting to find something on which to lock.
A magical scene appeared to me—beautiful out-of-focus luminous and dark shapes in greens, yellows, and mauves. Suspended against the blur of colours and light was a sharp constellation of twigs trussed with spider web between me and the vibrating branch vacated by the wattlebird. The camera had detected the contrast of the twigs against the soft background and locked focus on them. I liked what I saw and instinctively adjusted the composition to suit my sense of what looked good <click>.
I could not have noticed the scene revealed by the camera's viewfinder with my naked eye. My eye doesn't throw the background that much out of focus when I'm looking at a close object. My naked eye sees a confused, busy scene with tangled vegetation and dappled light. My eye tells my brain "No photograph there". No, this scene was the province of my camera—the technology— and I was alerted to its power by a moment of serendipity. Now I know, and now I'm prepared to exploit this phenomenon more in the future. Awareness is half the battle.
The genius of photography continues to delight and inspire.
In my next post I'll share what I visualised at the time of clicking the shutter, and the constructed image(s) that resulted.
Hello Rob, I am glad you have asked for clarification on my comment. In short, no I don’t like it as there is nothing there that holds my interest and I cannot see any artistic value. My eyes dart around the image from circle to circle and don’t come to rest anywhere. Before commenting I tried long and hard to visualize and find something but I could not. Then I read the blog and saw all the positive feedback, a lot of which I do not agree with and so while it would have been polite of me to not comment, I thought; well if I don’t like it I can say so and that is more beneficial to you than me not saying anything. What I wanted to get across is that I am not in agreeance with the masses and I was hoping it would spark a debate as I was interested to see if others had similar views to me. I do agree with you that you need to keep pushing or face death as an artist. Some things work, others don’t and you always learn from those that don’t. My intention was never meant as a criticism of the effort, only the result.
• Andrew, thanks for your thoughts. Not "out of line" but perhaps off-topic for this post. Depth of field is an advantage of the smaller sensor format if great depth of field is what you want. I usually want it in wide-angle landscape work, or when feeding magpies! In my view there is a lot of boffin style debate about the superiority of shallow DoF bokeh for the 35mm sensor format. Good results can be obtained with smaller sensors (see above), and there's always a helping hand in post-processing if needed. As you know, I use 'full' and 'crop' systems. My favourite is the crop because it has so much more 'grab and go' (spontaneity) than the 35mm format. My work with the 35mm system is slow and deliberate. It can't emulate the agility I get with the smaller system, particularly with long telephoto work. It's physics, too! Plus, I must admit, I have more small glass than big! Pragmatism. I'm also getting older and more feeble. Less weight to lug is good. Anything that encourages me to get out there and shoot more often is a good thing.
• Thanks for your feedback, Chris. If I stop pushing my own envelope, I'm as good as dead as an artist. The image above is but a starting point. A sketch.
I'm interested to know what you mean by 'too far' in relation to this image. You don't like it, I assume? Fair enough. Be true to yourself. I'd be interested to know why, though. A supported negative opinion is as valuable to me as a supported positive one. Mmmm, perhaps it's more valuable... ®
Not saying this to be mean spirited Rob but I think you are pushing the envelope too far with this one.
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