Remeber, Sharpness is not everything !

Started Feb 20, 2014 | Discussions thread
OP leopold Forum Pro • Posts: 14,083
Re: Remeber, Sharpness is not everything !

Ned-B wrote:

Adam Aitken wrote:

Ned-B wrote:

"I’m always amused by the idea that certain people have about technique, which translate into an immoderate taste for the sharpness of the image. It is a passion for detail, for perfection, or do they hope to get closer to reality with this trompe I’oeil? They are, by the way, as far away from the real issues as other generations of photographers were when they obscured their subject in soft-focus effects."

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Love the quote Ned. Of course Cartier-Bresson was after a different kind of perfection - capturing a moment that seemed spontaneous in composition. I am fascinated by how black and white photographers created depth and contrast and learned how to produce the illusion of sharpness. Our generation are just getting spoiled by the technology and the ease with which we can change color, contrast hue, add any filter we like etc. Many have forgotten about texture, contrast, depth of field, and the actual soul of an image, its meaning, its associations and suggestiveness. Super sharpness in an image can impress, but without the other aspects it is just - technical.

Adam A


Great points! My other favorite quote is by Ansel Adams..."there is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept." I think the beauty of early cameras was they were quite simple leaving most of the decisions up to the photographer. Today we've become so obsessed with the gear that we fail to develop the most important tool we have and that's our "eye". Determining your composition and isolating the subject matter is as important as knowing how your lens at a given aperture will render the image. Sharpness in most cases is simply a way for us to focus the viewer's attention or pull them into the photo so they immediately understand our point of view.

Two quick examples. Here's a photo from the '70s which I took in the Boston Public Gardens. The bible was the central element from my perspective and everything else just fell into place after I focused accordingly since I knew how my 50mm Summicron would render DOF, contrast etc. Is it sharp enough? I think so.

Here's another example from today. The tulips on our dinning room table finally opened up and I liked how this scene looked in the early morning light. I had my classic SMC Pentax-A f/1.4 50mm on the K-3. This was shot wide open. Is it sharp enough? Considering the overall mood I wanted to create, I think it's fine.

Probably too simplistic advice for those that are gear-dependent, but I agree with the OP and suggest that sharpness is only a small part of the fun and challenge in capturing images...whether it's film or digital:)



Hi Ned,

good points and examples, Ansel Adams would be even more concerned with the sharpness obsession of now, i was obsessed with that but now i think i'm more ZEN about it. I'm now putting more emphasis on other points and size and weight are 2 important now .


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