One of my favorite creative techniques is to shoot out of focus images. No really! I think there is something so lovely and evocative about an image that is deliberately defocused.
To be clear, I’m not talking about an image with missed focus. That is something very different. Focus tells your viewer were to look, what is important in the image. If your area of focus is soft from too slow a shutter speed or the focus just landed somewhere unintentional, the story is lost to the viewer and it is probably not an image to keep (of course, you might purposely use a slow shutter speed for creative effect also, but that’s a topic for different post).
Intentionally out of focus images typically tell a story through the light or colors; they can feel nostalgic and dreamy; they should allow your viewer to stay with the image and let their eyes wander through. A out of focus image should also not be so blurred that the viewer can’t discern the story, unless you are going for a completely abstract feeling.
What kinds of out of focus images are successful? Here are a few of my personal favorites and why they work.
This image has a strong sun flare, drawing the viewer into the golden light. It hits the nostalgic feeling of long nights, carefree, the summer stretching ahead of you.
By contrast, here is a very minimal image, just a few circles. But the color of the dark blue sky and the small red circles give a clear indication of a night drive; with just the two cars ahead, it’s likely a drive in a remote area, a feeling of isolation creeping in.
This image has just the hint of a person, the light grazing over her; she seems to be in the kitchen, lost in thought amongst the chores. It’s a very quiet moment caught in a haze.
The next image is one that I would say is unsuccesful; I took this one on film, and I was hoping to catch the warmth of the sun much like the sun flare image above; however, it is not defocused enough and it really just looks more like missed focus than intentional out of focus.
Sometimes a very out of focus image can also work as an abstract. Can you guess what the subject of this is?
I often love to shoot just for the light itself, and defocusing the frame to emphasize the quality or color of light is a great technique.
If you have any purposely defocused images you love, please leave me a comment and link them below.
if you are looking for some help with white balance or want to learn about macro, check out my classes!understanding white balance | magic of macro
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