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Thursday, December 16, 2010


Ever since I started to take photos with a digital camera I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to get sharp images. It's a special challenge to do this digitally because the smallest unit of color digitally is a pixel whereas with film, the smallest unit is a molecule of whatever photosensitive chemical is used on the film. And, while a pixel is pretty small, a molecule allows for much finer detail. But along with this quest for increased sharpness I have grown aware of the beauty, variety and uses of blur and now, in addition to my ongoing search for increased sharpness, I also try to gain more control over blur. Today's photos are results of some recent attempts to produce a very shallow depth of field (lots of blur) by shooting with a wide aperture (between f1.4 and f4) and using a short extension tube. My underlying goal here was to isolate the subject of the photo by having everything else blurry. My favorite kind of blur is very smooth and creamy as in the photo above. But I also like the more patterned blur as in the photo below. Either, however, serves to isolate the subject of the photo and draw attention to it. The more proper photographic term for the out-of-focus areas of a photo is bokeh and Wikipedia has a good article on it.

Above is a species of Usnea lichen, probably Usnea filipendula. Below is the remains of a seed cluster from English Ivy (Hedera helix).


JoJo said...

I love the bottom photo. They look like little fireworks! I think that blur, esp. in the background or foreground can really add to some photos.

word verif: dripi

imquilternity said...

I love photos like this...especially the one on the bottom with lots of beautiful, but understated bokeh. I think I'm drawn so much to your photos though, because you do achieve a wonderful degree of sharpness. It's what I'm working on improving for myself too!

Dean Lewis said...

I've always thought of digital as generally having, or being capable of far higher resolution than film. Film's smallest 'points' are the particles of film emulsion which increase in size with film speed. That's why slow speed slide film always has the finest resolution and larger format film has more emulsion in total.