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Author Topic: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage  (Read 1796 times)

Rob C

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Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« on: March 29, 2019, 07:19:49 am »

I have often mentioned my belief that digital and the drive to "perfection" can be self-defeating when it comes to street and the capture of human beings.

This book seems to validate my view:

https://www.damianieditore.com/en-US/product/711

Had these pix been sharper they would have become clinical, thus losing the human touch.

Rob

RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2019, 08:14:25 am »

Right, Rob. Itís something Iíve been arguing for a long time. When it comes to street, the relationships between people and their environment are what make the picture; not technical perfection. As Iíve said maybe too many times: HCBís fabulous stuff suffers from the kind of technical imperfections that come from what we now would consider primitive equipment. But itís whatís IN the picture that matters, not how sharp the image is. Your mind fills in the blanks, just as my mind fills in the tonal blanks when I listen to Pucciniís arias with my 89-year-old ears.

KLaban

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2019, 08:41:13 am »

Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage

I doubt anyone would argue with this statement.

Conversely I doubt anyone would argue with the statement Lack of sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage.

What next, B&W, better than colour?
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RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2019, 09:07:54 am »

Iíd argue that sometimes B&W is better than color, Keith. You can lose some of the strength of the graphics with color, and if the whole point of the picture is the graphical relationships between elements then I think B&W is better than color.

rabanito

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2019, 09:45:12 am »

But itís whatís IN the picture that matters, not how sharp the image is. Your mind fills in the blanks, just as my mind fills in the tonal blanks when I listen to Pucciniís arias with my 89-year-old ears.
Agree.
IMHO for how you express yourself I think that your mind is much younger than your ears.
My respect
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KLaban

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2019, 10:04:58 am »

Iíd argue that sometimes B&W is better than color, Keith. You can lose some of the strength of the graphics with color, and if the whole point of the picture is the graphical relationships between elements then I think B&W is better than color.

Sometimes, just as sharpness is sometimes a disadvantage.

You get the key word here?

;-)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 10:40:57 am by KLaban »
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RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2019, 11:09:13 am »

Right. "Sometimes" applies to almost everything you do with a camera.

 ;D

Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2019, 11:29:55 am »

... This book...

This book comes from Ken Van Sickle, an octogenarian New York photographer i posted about in the past. There is a short, three-minute video about him, with his pearls of photographic wisdom:

https://www.facebook.com/newshour/videos/10153876052678675/

And for those without a FB account:

https://youtu.be/hA_uVCCD5Is

Quote
"I'm not a concerned photographer. I'm not trying to prove anything politically or otherwise. I'm interested in beauty and sort of the subtle moments of everyday life."

Or about always carrying a camera:



faberryman

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2019, 11:43:09 am »

Had these pix been sharper they would have become clinical, thus losing the human touch.

The images are so small I can't tell what, if anything, the images, would lose if they were sharper. The only thing that come to mind is that they might lose is the look of the era in which they were taken - that sort of smooth, low contrast, slightly mushy look.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 02:17:49 pm by faberryman »
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RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2019, 01:45:10 pm »

This book comes from Ken Van Sickle, an octogenarian New York photographer i posted about in the past. There is a short, three-minute video about him, with his pearls of photographic wisdom:

https://www.facebook.com/newshour/videos/10153876052678675/

And for those without a FB account:

https://youtu.be/hA_uVCCD5Is

Or about always carrying a camera:

There's a guy after my own heart, Slobodan. Very good.

KLaban

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2019, 02:10:42 pm »

Many of my own images have areas of sharp focus contrasting areas of soft focus. Would they display more or less humanity if the image was sharper or softer?



Seriously, rather than generalisations and personal preferences it is the intention of the image maker and the success or failure of the resulting image that is key, 

 
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 02:19:19 pm by KLaban »
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32BT

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2019, 02:25:29 pm »

On the right was a pilar close to me and apparently the extremely simple focussing intelligence in my little sony decided that the closest object must be the primary interest of the picture. Odd, but ultimately correct. Who needs eye-detection auto focus???
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Regards,
~ O ~
If you can stomach it: pictures

RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2019, 02:28:10 pm »

Many of my own images have areas of sharp focus contrasting areas of soft focus. Would they display more or less humanity if the image was sharper or softer?

I donít think it makes any difference, Keith. You catch these people in their environment, usually with expressions that tell us something about being that person. I think this lady has to be stoic in order to make it through the day. But stoicism doesnít mean emotions arenít there, just that theyíre suppressed.

Just for kicks I did a B&W conversion. If anything, itís even more effective than the color version because her expression is what really matters.


KLaban

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2019, 02:37:23 pm »

I donít think it makes any difference, Keith. You catch these people in their environment, usually with expressions that tell us something about being that person. I think this lady has to be stoic in order to make it through the day. But stoicism doesnít mean emotions arenít there, just that theyíre suppressed.

Just for kicks I did a B&W conversion. If anything, itís even more effective than the color version because her expression is what really matters.

IMO, your version is way, way, way, too sharp and or contrasty and the subject has become a caricature of the dignified woman we met.

;-)
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 02:48:00 pm by KLaban »
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RSL

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2019, 02:49:27 pm »

I just did a straight conversion with Silver Efex Pro. Admittedly, it was a high structure conversion.

Ivophoto

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2019, 03:40:59 pm »

Sharpness is seriously overrated.



Sometimes.

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Rob C

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2019, 03:42:15 pm »

The images are so small I can't tell what, if anything, the images, would lose if they were sharper. The only thing that come to mind is that they might lose is the look of the era in which they were taken - that sort of smooth, low contrast, slightly mushy look.

The look of the era is indeed worthy of preservation. That said, the same era offered perfectly sharp and detailed images too.

I think the point is that one style gives a human touch in the sense of emotional connection, whereas a lot of detail turns the exercise into a little bit of human archaeology, if you see what I mean, where rather than get a sense of person we get a sense of skin condition. It is carried across into my feelings about contemporary PR photography of celebs, where there is no contact with person only with "project promotion", as it were, though in the case of the latter, through too much retouching where the person morphs into plastic doll. Those old shots from Avedon and Stern of Marilyn are so powerful and memorable precisely because they showed her as vulnerable; they were pretty grainy and mushy, too, and both those photographers were perfectly capable of doing high gloss where required; who remembers shots of any current plastic fantastic?

I have no pet dog in this fight because I no longer make pix of women, and what I do shoot I also usually wind up trying to defuse from painfully sharp. I can only speak of what appeals to me, which is why I guess I'm such a fan of Moon and Turbeville; just to prove the mind isn't closed, I also enjoy both Feurer and Lindbergh, who can do it both ways too.

:-)

Rob C

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2019, 03:49:09 pm »

Sharpness is seriously overrated.



Sometimes.


Horses for courses and clients are courses too, so most of my commercial work had to be sharp.



This began life as a 6x7 Ektachrome for a travel company poster.

Ivophoto

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2019, 04:11:59 pm »

The look of the era is indeed worthy of preservation. That said, the same era offered perfectly sharp and detailed images too.



The sharpest portraits I have made are collodions on glass with century old Petzval lenses.

Sharpness is just as unsharpness a tool in the toolbox.

The steep learning curve towards decent 8x10Ē portraits learned me to carefully play with sharpness and unsharpness in regions not larger than the distance between the eyebrow and the whisker. Scheimplfug is large format portrait photographers best friend at that moment.

I made some keynotes for school use on how to portait on large format. The keynote is in Dutch, no use here on Lula.


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Ivophoto

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Re: Sharpness, sometimes a disadvantage
« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2019, 04:14:26 pm »


Horses for courses and clients are courses too, so most of my commercial work had to be sharp.



This began life as a 6x7 Ektachrome for a travel company poster.

O thatís a nice shot, Rob.
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