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Intrigued by photos with blur and reflections why do I keep buying expensive kit?
Old 09-14-2015   #1
peterm1
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Intrigued by photos with blur and reflections why do I keep buying expensive kit?

I find myself liking best my images that are less than perfect. Am I normal? I started this lark before I discovered Saul Leiter but when I did I realised that's what I aspired to. Not that I can compare to him, but I can try. Like him, I love to shoot through windows for the effect it produces.

So here I am constantly making images that have blur, glow and reflections and frankly are sometimes less than sharp, and finding that these are the ones I like best. So am I nuts. And even if I am not, why do I keep wanting to buy the sharpest and best lenses :^)

Reflections 3 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Reflections 2 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Reflections by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Cafe study 12 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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Old 09-14-2015   #2
Rayt
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But did you intended to shoot blurry photos? David Hamilton made lovely blurry photos with only one lens a Minolta 50mm.
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Old 09-14-2015   #3
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rayt View Post
But did you intended to shoot blurry photos? David Hamilton made lovely blurry photos with only one lens a Minolta 50mm. Geez his books are heavy.
In general, yes. At least I know that when I shoot through a dusty window I will get flare, reflections, glow and if the shot is a snatched one a good chance of blur too. And if an image has too much sharp detail it is not unknown for me to pull it back in post production by applying glow, diffusion filters, vignettes etc. My theory is that it's about creating mood and atmosphere. I guess the point I make is I don't really need the latest and no the best to do it.
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Old 09-14-2015   #4
Timmyjoe
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I really like those first two Peter.

One way I've always looked at it is, if I have the best/sharpest lenses, I can always soft focus them. If I have inferior lenses, I can't always make them sharp.

For fun, and about fifty bucks, you could pick up a Diana and play around with the whole plastic lens/soft focus thing.
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Old 09-14-2015   #5
jsrockit
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To me, it doesn't matter what you are shooting... use the lenses that work the way you want them to. To me, they are all pretty good these days.
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Old 09-14-2015   #6
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I have always enjoyed your images very much. I admire their character, their look and feel, and I suspect that the important part of those effects come during postprocessing (PSP, if I remember correctly).
Your lenses take second place, IMO.
In my experience, the lenses that have that smooth but sharp look of your images are the Minolta Rokkors (the 50mm mentioned above is prbably #1), and you can buy them for $100. There are certainly others, but outside my experience.
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Old 09-14-2015   #7
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Lovely photos, peter.

I've always thought of this equipment vs image qualities contradiction this way:

"I like to work with good equipment. How I use it is up to me."

Frankly, the imperfections borne of the medium and processing/rendering issues are what attracts me to shoot more film and instant film. When I want more latitude on technically perfect, today's sensors and digital cameras do better for me.

G
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Old 09-14-2015   #8
Jamie Pillers
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Peter, like you, I find that nearly all my 'keepers' have plenty of imperfection in them. These imperfections, in my opinion, lend a 'hand-made' quality to images that create layers of beauty that I don't see in images that are perfectly sharp, perfectly composed, etc..
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Old 09-14-2015   #9
charjohncarter
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But even with blur and reflections there is sometimes spots that are sharp and your good lenses will be there for those. I have a folder with a very poor lenses that I just love for all it's faults. That folder lens is sharp in some areas that I feel add some interest to an otherwise uninteresting soft photo.
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Old 09-14-2015   #10
mfogiel
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If you shoot film, just get a Holga - if you shoot digital, just buy some vaseline.
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Old 09-14-2015   #11
froyd
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Peter-

I believe I might have remarked this already in a different thread, so I'll be succinct here. The dreamy, surreal quality of many of your images benefits from the contrast between the dusty, blurry reflections, and those parts of the image that are tack sharp, have good contrast, and are free from gross aberrations.
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Old 09-14-2015   #12
shadowfox
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Peter,

I'd say your photos in general has "soft-focus" not blurred.
And you still want something in your photos to be clear and sharp, otherwise you'd end up with just blobs of colors.

Therefore you need sharp lenses.
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Old 09-14-2015   #13
Contarama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post

why do I keep wanting to buy the sharpest and best lenses :^)
So you can make the very best quality blur, glow, reflections, and softness possible! haha
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Old 09-14-2015   #14
Roger Hicks
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Lovely shots.

The point is, though, that good kit gives you control and the choice of soft or sharp shots, and more or less depth of field.

A Holga doesn't.

The magic word is "control".

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-14-2015   #15
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contarama View Post
So you can make the very best quality blur, glow, reflections, and softness possible! haha
Hahaha. I like this. Too true. In general though I suppose it's true I like to have the choice of making sharp images even if my favorites are often the more impressionistic ones.
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Old 09-14-2015   #16
peterm1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
If you shoot film, just get a Holga - if you shoot digital, just buy some vaseline.
KY Jelly is better than Vaseline (wink)
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Old 09-21-2015   #17
Hsg
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Have you printed any of your photos with this style of processing, and if you have, what they look like printed?
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Old 09-21-2015   #18
danielsterno
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perfection of imperfection
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Old 09-22-2015   #19
David Hughes
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Perfection is finality and finality is death...

Anyway, I like them all, even the ones here: http://podakuni.livejournal.com/681121.html

which are the exact opposite of the soft focus etc shots we like.

I guess it's horses for courses; some subject look better with a bit of blur (to suggest the speed and movement), or soft focus (to hide the blemishes), and some work best when razor sharp (motorbikes in sales brochures, f'instance).

You pays yer money and takes yer pick...

Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 09-22-2015 at 00:58. Reason: Space inserted.
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Old 09-22-2015   #20
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Peter,
I really like your shots, especially these ones.
But lens and camera choices don't need to make sense! That and need vs want and what others have said before me.
Keep it up!
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Old 09-22-2015   #21
tyrone.s
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I've always admired your work Peter - the focused and unfocused alike! I think these images demonstrate that not tack sharp isn't necessarily an impediment to a compelling image. Better lenses certainly offer greater opportunity for selective focus. It'd be hard to imagine some of these effects coming from an f8 Holga. Lots of smeary DOF there!

Perhaps as artists we should aspire to the most neutral lenses - the ones most free from aberrations and distortions and which falls somewhere between 28-ish and 50-ish mm ('normal' within most people's vision and medium / crop factor, I guess). Anyway, my thinking is that the more neutral the lens one uses the more one can focus on creating the image they are chasing rather than simply relying on a deficient (i.e. compromised, distorted) lens or digital filter to give you the 'effect', plug and play style, that the lens provides ... time after time.
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