Some brief thoughts on trying to get a ‘sharp image’ in photography.
There are times when a sharp image is very important. But honestly, I am amazed at how many people work themselves into a ‘lather’ arguing and fretting about the myopic details of sharpness.
The world is awash with technically perfect photographs that are just boring!
Being a good technical photographer is a ‘cost-of-entry’ into the world of photography. However, it is not the main game. It is not what’s important. Yet, ‘technical’ rather than ‘vision’ is where many photographer’s minds are at.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept” ~ Cartier-Bresson.
We can get too caught-up worrying about sharpness at the expense of what is really important; like learning how to be creative and how to make great photographs.
Here are 5 photographs below which were impossible to get sharp because of the way I chose to capture these images. “Sharpness” was never a consideration. Yet each photograph is powerful and creative in its own way.
I have seen photographers lock themselves into a mindset of rigid tripods, mirror lock-ups, shutter release cables, particular apertures and shutter speeds just because these are what can produce a sharper image. It is the thought of a ‘sharp image’ which drives their method. Yet such a mind-set comes with an opportunity cost; they can miss a whole world of other creative possibilities.
Now of course, there is nothing wrong with that, if that is their purposeful technique and they understand its restrictions.
What I am trying to share with you is this: locking our photographic technique into any kind of mind-set can restrict the flexibility and options with which we might approach a subject. Whereas keeping our mind-set open and agile might provide us with a wider range of creative options…. just a thought.
I am still trying to find my own ‘voice’ with my photography, but I know that worrying too much about technical things such as ‘getting it sharp’, is like looking through the ‘wrong end of the telescope’.
Ideas, creativity, vision, story and emotion… these are the kind of things that make great photographs. Learning how to push boundaries, break rules and open up our creative vision is where I like to spend my time.
I am convinced that the two most important things that make a great photographer are first, how they have learnt to ‘visualise’ in their mind before they shoot. And second, how they ‘edit’ their work after it is shot. Everything else; cameras, equipment, hardware, software and other technical things, none of this is very important in comparison.
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Here are some other posts I have written which may be of interest to you here:
- What makes a photograph great?: here
- Why photography? here
- Becoming a photographer ~ the struggle to see part 1: here
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