Blurry or art?

Blurry shearwaters

When selecting photos for my magazine recently, I needed one of a sea bird. Having taken several of shearwaters, I though this picture would have been amazing, had it been in focus. Or is it fine the way it is and can I call it ‘art’?

There have been several entries, for example, to the creative visions category in the Veolia Environnment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition that look just that – shots that should have been in focus but are not. And even the photographers have admitted that they were on the verge of deleting them.

So what is it that makes those out of focus shots better than just blurry?

Michael Roggo Hare

Runner-up in 2008, this ‘ghost of a march hare’ is difficult to appreciate as being artistically blurry because there’s no frame of reference that is in focus.

© Michael Roggo Photography

Ian Wade blurry fox

This image was shortlisted for the final images in the 2011 competition. This one does seem to have a background in focus, but it’s not a very strong one – it’s just a wall. He’s cleverly called it ‘graffiti fox’ but I struggle to see it.

© Ian Wade photography

Mark McCormack Whale

I think this image really works because you have the focus on the water, the whale being a far off ‘shape’ and they key (I would say) is the break in the water’s surface at the top where the whale has just gone down from.

© Mark McCormack photography

Ole Jørgen Liodden Midnight Tern

Runner-up in 2011, this is a very difficult skill to perfect because you have to use a slow shutter speed whilst keeping the bird perfectly in focus, which he’s managed to do. It can create a nice feel of movement, and the colours from the surroundings are equally important.

© Ole Jørgen Liodden 

Edwin Giesbers Out of the Blue

This image has the ant in very good focus yet the very shallow depth of field make it look like it is hiding behind a textured piece of glass that throws everything out of focus.

© Edwin Giesbers photography

Miguel Lasa Polar Sunrise

There may not be much that is lit in this image but that’s why it works – you can imagine the 3 brushstokes of a yellow brush on a black canvas.

© Miguel Lasa photography

Of course, playing with out of focus settings can be very fun, especially if you’re trying to get a cool bokeh effect. You can purchase filters to turn lights into all sorts of shapes! here’s a cool post with examples on the photoble website, and here’s a DIY guide to creating your own filters out of black paper.

Heart Bokeh

Here’s a cool bokeh effect with a heart filter

For those who can’t wait for this year’s Veolia Environnment Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners, the Guardian released a sneak preview of several of this year’s commended photographs.

I'd like to know your opinion too

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s