The Unfocused in Photography

When taking a photograph we usually try to get the subject in focus and consider an image a failure if it’s not.

But what about letting go of convention and purposefully making an image where attention is given to the subject because it’s not in focus, or an image where nothing is in focus? Sometimes I think it’s more interesting, and for these tulips I really like the effect, especially the way some of the stems have disappeared and the flowers look like they’re just floating. I think it’s much more interesting than a standard tulip image.

You can try this technique with any subject. It’s much easier to achieve with a camera and lens that you can manually focus as a phone wants to do the focusing for you. With a digital camera you’ll see what you’re getting – you could waste quite a bit of film getting an image you’re happy with!

Obviously, you need a wide aperture (small number) set. If your aperture is set to f.22 you’re likely to loose the effect when you press the shutter.

So why would you do this?

  • To make the viewer work harder to understand a familiar subject
  • To create an abstract image
  • To concentrate on colour
  • To create a mood
Corfe Castle, Dorset

Self portrait, Sandbanks Beach

Tip: I really like using this technique for flowers.

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