I’ve been chewing on out of focus photography for a while now—and by a while now I mean well over a year, and by out of focus photography I mean pictures that are deliberately rendered focus out, in absence of sharpness and clarity. Now I am not ready to declare this here photo the start of something new in my developmental photographic arc, but I am ready to state my affection for this kind of shooting. Done well it breaks through much of what we think are required features in a “good” photograph—strong lines, clear forms, and sharpness on our subject. Focus out instead pares down the rules to introduce simplicity, blur, and softness that brings the attention to the simpler beauty of form, contrast, and movement.
Shown here is a Jane Magnolia bud, a mere day or two from opening, presented in its stripped down form. Even in the absence of focus it’s still easy to pick up on everything happening in the photograph. The sun is warmly shining down on a single flower bud that’s part of a larger bush system. Here sharpness, focus, and clarity are not needed to tell that story. Even in its faded state the imagery is clear. This shot struck me immediately upon import into Lightroom. Even in its unaltered straight out of camera state it smacked me right in the face with that oh, I like this one feeling. A feeling that for me doesn’t come around too often.
Speaking of Jane Magnolias and the layered meaning of the titular Missed—this is the first time in about 3 springs my magnolia bush has armed itself with decent buds. I aggressively pruned and moved the bush a few years back and while it has spread its leaves OK in subsequent years, it has nary managed more than a handful of buds. This year it’s back with dozens and dozens of purple flowers ready for the appreciation of my lenses. I’d be surprised it this winds up my only magnolia capture of the year. It has been missed.
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