"...an insatiable craving for sharpness of images" - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Started Dec 5, 2008 | Discussions thread
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David Banner
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"...an insatiable craving for sharpness of images" - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Dec 5, 2008

Here's the full quote, taken from "The Education of a Photographer" ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/158115450X?ie=UTF8&tag=advanwebamazocom&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=158115450X ):

"I am constantly amused by the notion that some people have about photographic technique--a notion which reveals itself in an insatiable craving for sharpness of images. Is this the passion of an obsession? Or do these people hope, by this trompe l'oeil technique, to get to closer grips with reality? In either case, they are just as far away from the real problem as those of that other generation which used to endow all its photographic anecdotes with an intentional unsharpness such as was deemed to be 'artistic'."

Probably not what you thought he was going to say was it?

I found this really interesting for several reasons. First, it is an obsession here. People spend ridiculous amounts of money on professional glass so they can appreciate the IQ when viewed at 100%.

Second, in looking at some of HCB's most famous photos, you can see sometimes not only is the focal point not sharp, it's not even in focus.

I've always been against pixel-peeping, in general I only do it when I purchase a new lens, when I want to fine tune the Autofocus, or when I'm deciding which photo to keep of 2 similar shots. And the latter case, I often find one of the photos more appealing than the other, and I usually keep the one that is most appealing even if it's not the sharpest. I get lots of photos where the focus is off, but it really doesn't bother me.

Here her eyes aren't super sharp, I think the AF got her hair instead. And using ISO 800 on my G9 doesn't help the sharpness either. But I still like the photo.

This one is one of my favorites from our last trip to Disneyland. If you look at 100% you'll see it's quite blurry, but it captures the fun we were having on this ride.

Here the camera focused on the window and not her eyes. However it was the best one due to her look.

On this one the focus is quite off, but I just loved the expression on her face and I kept it instead of another which had better focus.

My summary in all this is that IQ isn't everything. Composition, subject matter, visual interest, etc. are all far more important. I know this is a gear forum, but it's a great forum with great talented photographers and newbies alike. It'd be nice if we could also discuss the artist side instead of the technical side. Perhaps I should be in another forum, if you know of a site that caters more to the artistic side please share.

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