Haphazard and Defocused: Elusive Lesson in Photographic Composition
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a flower at an ikebana show in Kyoto Japan
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
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Looking over photos from the Ikebana show I mentioned yesterday, I came across this shot with not a single thing in focus, but somehow I really like its mood. The closest edge is the least out of focus, but everything being out of focus makes the whole thing seem dreamy. I tend to be partial to the “sliver of focus” effect (as seen here, here, here, and here), but this takes it even further by having the “in focus” part not even in focus. It's almost like a painting.

This has only a little post processing, in Lightroom. I set the white balance, adjusting the exposure and blacks, and tweaked the crop, but otherwise it's “as loaded”. In particular, this doesn't use any “negative clarity” in Lightroom, as described in “Funky Joy With Adobe Lightroom” and used, for example, in the first photo here. All the creaminess in this shot is directly from the Voigtländer 125mm's delicious bokeh and my  dumb luck  inspired skill in composition.

With the way the edge comes close to focus but doesn't quite get there, and how it grabs your attention and leads it back to the defocused areas.... somehow I think there's a deep lesson in composition here, but I'm not able to put my finger on exactly what it is. In any case, I really like the shot and will probably frame a print of it for my wall.

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

I believe the word is “tension”. You have one or two simple curves that lead your eyes around the image, but never settle on any particular point. Enjoyed the images of the flowers. Tks Chris

— comment by Chris on October 11th, 2011 at 4:55pm JST (12 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

The image follows a near-perfect Lo Shu magic square, if you consider how the eye is drawn across it.

Had never heard of Lo Shu magic square before…. —Jeffrey

— comment by Shelley Evans on October 12th, 2011 at 2:47pm JST (12 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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