Unusual Out of Focus and Candid Photography Tips
In my opinion reality itself or the impossible attempt of depicting reality in photography is overrated. All images will have the personal touch and influence of the photographer.
Intentionally out of focus photography gives a tremendous amount of freedom to the picture taker as sharpness is no longer a concern. Without having to precisely focus, a large chunk of the usual technical responsibilities disappear.
The out of focus look is created with the camera not in Photoshop – which in my opinion makes a difference. In my case I enjoy a lot more to create any special effects while doing photography instead of while staring at the computer screen.
Of course out of focus photography should not be done indiscriminately. Just like with any other technique, blurring all areas of an image will not substitute for creative vision – the photographer still should have a point of view or a story to tell.
The million plus times photographed view of Waikiki beach skyline and Diamond Head crater gains mystery and nostalgic mood when applying out of focus photography. This may serve as an inside joke to those who live in Waikiki or have visited: perhaps blurring some of the smaller details of Waikiki is not such a bad thing after all.
Dusk was a great time to take this photo, as the city lights started to come on but there was still enough light to show details and clouds in the sky over Diamond Head.
A pier reaching out into the ocean is a classic photography subject. It can introduce perspective, an uncluttered background and mood via the atmospheric conditions of the moment.
The time of dusk at the end of a stormy day provided muted, pastel tones which give a melancholic mood to this photo.
I also like the separation between the blurred figures of the couple. The less sharp the details, the better the opportunity that the viewers can make up their own stories and fill in the out of focus gaps.
While the previous landscape format photo emphasizes the horizon, this portrait format image contains a stronger sense of perspective. I always hope for large enough waves so they wash over the pier, therefore making puddles which can aid in creating a mirror effect of either sky or people standing at end of the pier.
A combination of candid people photography and intentionally blurred, out of focus effect created in the camera, not in Photoshop. This was not a pre-planned shot, I was sitting on a large rock enjoying the beautiful light at the time of dusk, but I was also keeping an open mind for candid photography that could appear and disappear in a matter of seconds.
The figure of the Japanese man really stood out – from my vantage point – against the sky. The interaction and the girls looking up completed the necessary ingredients this frame needed to be successful.
The man leaned forward only for a few seconds but I was lucky to be ready to shoot. His pose introduced a strong diagonal line which usually adds visual excitement and drama to compositions.
Out of focus and motion blur technique was used to create this charcoal looking effect of tourists standing on the pier. Out of focus was achieved by manually focusing closer than where the subjects were. Motion blur was created by panning the camera horizontally, much like doing a horizontal stroke with a paint brush.
The huge boulders of the pier add dark great shapes to the foreground, in a way securely anchoring the composition. This was a lucky moment too, as the tourists were nicely spread across the frame not blocking each other or not creating a too cluttered composition.
More tourists arrived but still not too many for a balanced composition. Shortly after I took this photo, the lady on the left leaped onto the rocks – which would have been an interesting shot – but by that time she was in front of the other tourists so the image was not successful as people behind her were “sticking out” of her head and body.
I walked off the large rocks off the pier to look for other vantage points and compositions.
I wished to continue to concentrate on the perspective the pier provides at a wide angle setting.
A kid playing was placed in the foreground but in a way that no other lines were intersecting his body.
Even when there is very little time to grab the perfect shot, I try to be always conscious about not creating visual disturbance by poles, power lines, horizons, etc. cutting through people in an unflattering way.
The previous black and white version emphasizes shapes and lines. Due to the red shirt of the kid – which is a color that in harmony with the blue of the rest of the composition – I decided to shoot a color version as well.
Due to the placement of the kid in the foreground and due to the red colored shirt, he is clearly and unmistakably the main subject of the photo that the eyes of the viewer will immediately focus on.
Oh, the joys of candid people photography! I love this picture because it is a funny moment and I was so lucky to be at the right place at the right time. The Japanese girl using her partner as a human tripod (well, bipod to be correct) lasted just a few seconds. I love it how she is holding him by the forehead trying to ensure blur-free image, which happens to be the opposite goal from mine.
So by now it is obvious why I like this pier at the end of Waikiki Beach. There are many different interesting vantage points and a non-stop flow of human interactions and slices of lives concentrated at a small spot.
The moment of these Japanese girls photographing each other and reviewing the images may not have been very photogenic, but by having the elevated spot so the background is uncluttered and the colors of dusk, I was able to capture a visually interesting and beautiful scene.
This is one of the purest examples of on purpose out of focus photography I have done.
This sunset was photographed from the above mentioned pier, from Waikiki Beach. The dark blue of the storm clouds add nice color contrast against the orange of the setting sun. The out of focus effect was created simply using my camera’s manual focus mode and focusing at the closest distance possible.
The great thing about this technique is that it works with any lens equally as sharpness, depth of field or bokeh quality are not factors.
Same place, different day as the image above. Because no two sunsets are the same, every evening can potentially bring about a masterpiece. For photographers who cannot paint, on purpose out of focus photography offers an artistic outlet.