This is my entry for softness.
Softness is sometimes a bad word for photographers. Especially now, with digital photography-I always hear people complaining in on-line forums and camera clubs how they can’t get lenses sharp enough. They want everything sharp, sharp, sharp. Maybe it’s just another one of those little differences between painters and photographers, but you almost never hear a painter say “I want it sharper.” Softness is appreciated. It’s expressive. It comes from the hand of the artist. It’s evocative. It can help make a piece unique. Oddly enough, it was a great photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who once said, “sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” (Well, in his defense, he did start out life as a painter.)
Since I do a lot of figurative photography, I would be the first to admit, there’s something magical that happens when a figure is left soft. The curves of the form, the gestures, the hands, limbs, hair, all take on a certain elegance, a “glow” that you just don’t get in that f/16 world. The figure looks like it’s transported you to another world-a beautiful, magical place, which only exists on film. Sorry to say, f/16 often doesn’t do that for me. It’s just, well, it’s just there sometimes. Not all of the time, but, you know, sometimes.
I guess softness too is all about the way you use it. You can either opt to embrace it and make it work, or hate it and fight it to your death. “Embrace the blur,” yes, they say that a lot too nowadays, don’t they?
Until next time…
I'm a huge fan of blur in photography if it's done properly. Most of my shots are done at very wide aperture settings.
I shoot at f/16 (Shhh. Don't tell) but pull the focus out. Different look, but I still love that pretty softness.