Embracing the Blur: The Art of Unsharp Photography

The level of sharpness in a photo shapes the aesthetic and emotional impact of an image. While sharpness is often equated with photographic quality, the deliberate use of softness or blur can convey a unique, compelling visual story.

Coming to you from Peter Forsgård, this enlightening video explores the concept that a photograph does not always need to be sharp. Forsgård begins by addressing the common obsession with sharpness in photography, highlighting the industry's focus on sharp lenses and pixel-peeping habits. He challenges this notion by emphasizing the importance of choosing aperture settings based on desired depth of field rather than just sharpness. This encourages photographers to think more about the artistic intent of their images rather than just technical excellence.

Forsgård then delves into five methods for intentionally creating softer images, each with its own aesthetic appeal. He discusses the use of soft focus lenses and filters, such as mist filters, to achieve a dreamy, filmic look. Another technique he explores is creative blur, achieved through camera movements or panning, which can add a sense of motion and emotion to a photograph. Minimalism and the use of bokeh are also covered, where strategically unsharp areas in an image can highlight the subject or create a particular mood. Lastly, Forsgård touches on impressionism in photography, where an entirely unsharp image can evoke feelings and moods through colors and soft edges. These techniques underscore the versatility and expressive power of photography, moving beyond the conventional emphasis on sharpness. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Forsgård.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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On the Rangefinder Forum there is a thread dedicated to various types of unsharp photos.

“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”