Sharpness Isn't Everything

A beach on Unst.

Over the weekend I was looking at a portrait I thought I might enter for a competition. I was quite pleased with it. It's a black and white picture of my daughter, prancing around on a fell top in the Lake District with her iPad and I think it really captures her energy as well as her umbilical connection to the tablet. Tablet on a mountain top--really. Anyway, I was examining the full-size image as the judges of the competition would do, and I discovered that although it's unnoticeable at small sizes (it would probably print nicely at 8x10 inches), I missed the focus on her eyes. Part of what I like about the image is the way the focus separates her from the landscape, so having her shoulder in focus, but not her eyes--an unforgivable technical fault--would just be a waste of the entrance fee.

I was thinking about this over the weekend when I came across this picture, taken using a manual lens which I deliberately defocussed. If I took my glasses off that's pretty much what I would see if the light was really good. And yet there is still energy in the way the girl is standing, and in the approaching sea. I can recognise my daughter just from the shape of her. Being out of focus is the point of this picture. I could have used sharpness to highlight the girl, but I think it manages the same thing with shapes and shades. The beach, incidentally, is on Unst, at the northern tip of the most northerly Shetland island.