13 Examples of Great Photos When Being Out of Focus Makes the Shot - Digital Photography School

13 Examples of Great Photos When Being Out of Focus Makes the Shot

The quest for tack sharp photos is something most photographers are on the quest for – but sometimes it is a lack of focus can really make a shot what it is. Here are 12 images that either are completely ‘unfocused’ or which use focus selectively. Learn more about the technique of taking unfocused images here.

unfocused.jpg

Image by Tiago Ribeiro

unfocused-2.jpg

Image by VictoriaPeckham

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Image by Jeff Kubina

unfocused-3.jpg

Image by Brian Auer

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Image by Young Toymaker

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Image by dotbenjamin

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Image by RobW

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Image by Pulpolux

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Image by Gabriela Camerotti

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Image by abstrato

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Image by abstrato

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Image by Joe Penniston

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Image by nathangibbs

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • ATL Photog

    I dont agree with this… out of the photos, i’d say that only 2 of them are actually good. The rest are either bokeh or not that good. Bokeh and completely out of focus photos are two different styles of photography! Sorry!

  • michael

    nice article…it’s a technique to remember for sure!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/23902555@N03/5537066768/

  • Krishna
  • http://www.omarmaulana.com/ Omar

    I think some of the example above are better if the photo is in perfect focus.
    Just my opinion.

  • Subhash Dasgupta

    It is a new thinking, new look, nice

  • mashdown

    The first shot is the only good shot IMO that represents the subject. The other good ones are dof but not oof.

Some older comments

  • mashdown

    July 22, 2013 06:02 pm

    The first shot is the only good shot IMO that represents the subject. The other good ones are dof but not oof.

  • Subhash Dasgupta

    December 8, 2012 04:33 pm

    It is a new thinking, new look, nice

  • Omar

    August 22, 2012 08:30 pm

    I think some of the example above are better if the photo is in perfect focus.
    Just my opinion.

  • Krishna

    May 25, 2012 02:47 pm

    My first Out of focus photo. Thoughts?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/49617469@N05/7265828214/in/photostream/

  • michael

    February 17, 2012 09:29 am

    nice article...it's a technique to remember for sure!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/23902555@N03/5537066768/

  • ATL Photog

    January 7, 2012 06:08 am

    I dont agree with this... out of the photos, i'd say that only 2 of them are actually good. The rest are either bokeh or not that good. Bokeh and completely out of focus photos are two different styles of photography! Sorry!

  • Toronto Photographer

    December 31, 2011 12:58 am

    I've always been a fan of selective focusing but it has to be done right otherwise it looks messy and boring. The pool shot is great and shows good use of this technique.

  • Michele

    December 28, 2011 08:35 am

    Hi I have a pictures that taken by a friend and he wearing glasses on that pic and something is on the glasses relect under the light so how can make it that i can clearly what it actually relect on the glasses?
    Please do not hesitate to contact me.
    Many thanks
    MICHELE

  • K'man

    November 25, 2011 01:28 pm

    the comments above make me realize that there are Artists,and there are Photographers, and one does not necessarily have to be both.
    whether accidental or on purpose should not factor in to the discussion of "is it art?" any more then whether one Likes the piece or not. Art is art...
    that said i quite like first image, the (almost) abstract lurking figure, great balance, use of negative space and a different kind of "focus" that to me speaks strongly about the subject.
    why it could be a painting and not a photo to be considered art is truly absurd...does that make photo realism a lesser movement than impressionism?
    I appreciate the vision of artists who share with others, criticizing those who do share,simply because it may be painful to you, imposes Your tastes/belief...Make your OWN art, enrich the world as they have, I guarantee someone will Not like yours either, shouldn't be a factor.

  • Jen M.

    August 19, 2011 12:44 am

    @ktg-That is a beautiful shot! You SHOULD be proud of it! :)

  • Maisi

    August 18, 2011 10:51 am

    Great examples. So many times an out of focus shot captures a mood or feeling that just wouldn't be there with everything in focus. I know some of my clients' favorite photos of them and/or their children were shots that captured a feeling, but were not necessarily all in focus or had perfect focus.

  • cris

    August 18, 2011 07:06 am

    @ Martin: after reading your comment i went back and really studied the images. they all looked purposeful to me. i would hope that such blurred images weren't accidents! i really liked most of the images, actually. while i don't agree, i do appreciate your willingness to post your opinion.

  • ktg1963

    August 18, 2011 05:56 am

    Here's the shot (sorry, new to flikr!)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ktg1963/6053366745/in/photostream

  • ktg1963

    August 18, 2011 05:54 am

    This was taken as part of final week's homework of a photography course I did recently. I love it so much I can't stop looking at it. Am planning on printing on a canvas.

  • Peter Sanders

    August 6, 2011 12:46 pm

    Hi

    There are only four photos in this lot that have something to offer in the "out of focus" method. The boat, Mickey and Walt, the reclining lady and the bubbles image. The other images look more like mistakes and have nothing to offer or nothing to make them appealing. A couple of the remaining photos, the first one and the "joined couple" could be acceptable as large abstract paintings but not as photos.

    Out of focus images can be useful and appealing, however in the majority of cases, they need to be planned and designed to be out of focus. They also need to offer something to the viewer, they need to have a subject, reason or purpose that the observer can instantly see and understand. Most of the photos in this group do not have that subject, reason or purpose, at least not to the casual observer. There may have been a need for the photographer, but the photo does not have a purpose for everyone.

    Kind regards

    Peter

  • Ian Holden

    August 6, 2011 07:29 am

    I took this one sitting on the beach in Bournemouth - I liked the way the people almost appear like abstract painted figures

  • Ian Holden

    August 6, 2011 07:21 am

    A walk on the beach

  • fixer

    August 6, 2011 06:21 am

    @comodrom Your photo is very well done, and has a couple of elements that I feel really adds to it. The colors are wonderful, as well as the texture. I get the sense that I can reach out and feel your picture. I sometimes like to think "would I like this better if it was in focus"? Plenty of times I realize the oof pics would look better in focus, thus doing away with the whole point. I don't think yours would be appealing in focus, but it's great out of!!

  • Ed Letts

    August 6, 2011 06:02 am

    @comodrom I like it. At first glance its a great abstract then as you look the picture emerges until you know exactly what you're looking at. I think this one way to use blur effectively.

  • Bkk5026

    August 4, 2011 07:10 am

    I think it is more to do with composition and less to do with the blurriness that I think some people have a hard time accepting these type of photos. A few months ago I accidentally dropped my camera but thank goodness it was a short distance. Unfortunately I broke the auto focus function of it so have to resolve to manually focus each time I take pictures. Good practice for me though so have not replaces the lens.

    Just recently I went on a trip to Boston and was taking a photo of my brother closed up. At the time the camera didn't focus so the image came out blurry. I thought I had ruined the picture but when I download it later he blurriness turned out really well! Will try to post pic later.

    With that said, I think whether or not the pictures are blurry, I think there should always be some sort of focus on the main subject. I think the dizziness or headache that others are experiencing is due to the fact that there are too much going on and one's brain doesn't know what to focus on. Some of the better ones actually guides you to a point.

  • Comodrom

    August 4, 2011 04:12 am

    hey.. i have one.. what do you think of this guys?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/90723123@N00/5878200834/lightbox/

    Advice? Please?
    regards...

  • Chris Kellyman

    August 4, 2011 01:23 am

    Just reinforcement for the fact that you should learn the rules and how they apply. Once you have that established, realize that (Especially in Photography) rules are meant to be broken. These are indeed great images.

  • simon

    August 3, 2011 09:24 pm

    blured images can either look terrible if done badly or simply amazing story telling that beats a pin sharp run of the mill shot hands down

    somedays teh world does look better somewhat blurry after all !

  • bfeldman

    August 2, 2011 06:59 am

    I like the concept - personally I'd rank these 1) boat, 2) Child with bubbles and 3) people on sidewalk?

    The others really dont interest me - and that is the best (and possibly worst) thing about photography... EVERYONE's likes are different.

  • af

    August 2, 2011 04:40 am

    I think most of these are the kinds of images that you lose interest in after the first glance. The only one that really works is the billiard ball, and there it is the contrast between focus and lack-of-focus that draws interest.

  • Ed Letts

    August 2, 2011 04:04 am

    While experimenting with long exposures at night I was having trouble getting auto focus to lock on to something. Since I was only trying to learn and didn't really care about the focus I pointed the camera at something to get it to lock then turned the camera back across the lake to try my long exposure shot. I was pleasantly surprised by the result.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edletts/5998429255/in/photostream

  • John King

    August 2, 2011 12:55 am

    I think several of the photos (# 3, #6, #7 and #13) are more examples of "Depth of Field" and selective focus rather than actually being "unfocused". There are elements in each of those photos that are in sharp focus.
    In the remainder of the photos there is nothing in focus and thus better illustrate the "concept." As for whether the "concept' works, that is in the eye of the beholder.

    A "sister" concept to "unfocused" is "blur". With blur, the image is actually properly focused, however because of the motion introduced into the image by moving the camera or the subject, the image is no longer entirely "tack sharp". Here is a link to an example of "blur" that could be confused with "unfocused"

    http://www.kingmotorsportphotography.com/05-2009-Rolex-Grand-Am-NJMP/Race-Day-Daytona/IMG6066/543031831_oqte7-L-2.jpg

    http://www.kingmotorsportphotography.com/2011-07-23-NJMP-Rolex-Grand-Am/2011-07-24-Grand-Am-Race/i-WbVQ4Gn/0/L/MG9709-L.jpg

  • John D. Roach

    August 1, 2011 11:35 pm

    Except for the pool ball image, I am not thrilled with the photographs. My taste is different when comes to throwing things out of focus. Interesting arcticle though and an interesting perspective. Just not my "gig."

    jdroach

  • Jyoti

    August 1, 2011 09:32 pm

    Here's one i tried long time ago... keeping the subject out of focus sometimes pluses the shot.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dream_mercchant/2928907807/

  • Peter

    August 1, 2011 07:56 pm

    If you gave a camera to a monkey, he could probably get similar results. So would that make it a great photographer.

  • bycostello

    August 1, 2011 06:55 pm

    i could see some of those being abstract wall art...

  • scottc

    August 1, 2011 04:49 am

    Great results posted in this article, many have a very impressionist look.

    I've never tried this intentionally, but took this one slightly out of focus and liked the result.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4724529635/

  • Ben

    August 1, 2011 03:40 am

    I tried this last summer when I went to Monet's home & gardens in Giverny, France. A small homage to the master himself. I did take shots that were focused before tweaking them out. I preferred most of the unfocused ones more than the in focus ones. Yes, it makes my eyes strain a little bit, but it's better than anything that could be done in post.

  • Elisabetta

    August 1, 2011 03:06 am

    Is maybe not my stile, I love shallow DOF, but I really enjoy seeing how other photographer use out of focus images with great results. One of this is http://www.dinamariephotography.com/index2.html.

  • midwestslp

    August 1, 2011 02:01 am

    I too have get eye strain if I look at an out-of-focus picture for a while especially when there is too much going on in the photo. That's not to say that some of these ideas don't work. I guess the less in the picture the better.

    @p, perhaps the dying, perfectly focused flower is a subconscience desire of some sort? ;)

  • Keith

    August 1, 2011 01:35 am

    I've been trying the whole blur photo's thing out for a little with I think it works for some people and doesn't for others. Just like all Art it is very subjective but here is one of my photo's where I did the blur http://k-ophotography.smugmug.com/Photography/Miscellaneous/i-B9TDG46/0/L/IMG0614-L.jpg

  • fixer

    August 1, 2011 01:15 am

    I understand the "13 examples" are merely a selection that a single person perceived as been good photos. I'm still trying to figure out if I agree with even one. The pool shot is alright, but it doesn't fit the category.. the ball is in focus. The man walking hand and hand with Mickey Mouse is certainly the most worthy. Again, I realize this is simply my opinion. The reason I like that shot is due to the fact the I know I would not like it if it was in focus, however I do like it out of.

  • Ian Worthington

    November 5, 2010 09:44 am

    Thanks guys, comments much appreciated. Let's see what this year's sparkler season brings :)

    i

  • Christina

    November 5, 2010 05:55 am

    @ ian worthington I think it might be that the expression of the child competes with the sparkler for attention - perhaps leaving the viewer with a bit of ambiguity of what exactly the subject is (The sparkler? Or the child's expression?) I agree with mike and think that if the child were even more out of focus, the shot would be better.

  • Mike

    May 29, 2010 02:59 am

    @ ian worthington, I quite like it. Specifically, and in contrast to some of the commenters on the linked page, I like that only the sparkler is in focus, and not either child. In fact, I'd even like it more if the frontmost child were less sharp.

    Maybe people don't like a shot of "just a sparkler" with children as "an afterthought." Maybe they want a shot of a child looking at a sparkler. Yours is not exactly the representation they want. I prefer it, though. Shots of kids looking in wonder at stuff are a dime-a-dozen. What I like in this shot is that the children are somewhat hidden, masked in a soft background, their wonder waiting to be uncovered by descent into the unfocused field of the frame.

  • Ian Worthington

    May 29, 2010 02:50 am

    Here's a photo of mine I took some time ago using this idea. I really like this, but no one else seems to. I'd love opinions on why it doesn't work for anyone

    http://www.photosig.com/go/photos/view?id=2415782

    i

  • Ian Worthington

    May 29, 2010 02:48 am

    Here's a photo of mine I took some time ago using this idea. I really like this, but no one else seems to. I'd love opinions on why it doesn't work for anyone, either here or at http://www.photosig.com/go/photos/view?id=2415782

    [eimg url='http://photos.photosig.com/photos/82/57/2415782-e91509f075c8cb4c.jpg' title='2415782-e91509f075c8cb4c.jpg']

    i

  • p

    February 5, 2010 03:45 pm

    this is one that I took a few months ago - at my ex's wedding - intentionally making the bridal group out of focus - and NOT because it WAS my ex's wedding. it is only TODAY though that I realised the flower was 1/2 dead. Still like the effect.
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixbytk/4331268963/' title='The focus is on the flower' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2667/4331268963_6c85bd80ba.jpg']

  • ramesh

    September 25, 2009 03:57 pm

    not all but some of the pics above really caught my attention.

  • Jennifer Moore

    September 10, 2009 05:26 am

    I loved NIkonBoy's photo! It has a very impressionist feel and looks almost more like a painting. Well done, man!

  • Jennifer Moore

    September 10, 2009 05:25 am

    I appreciate art in all of its forms, and I respect those who do things differently than I would. That said, I have to say that completely out of focus shots give me a headache. Always have, and I can't STAND it when they do it in film, either. Even just a few seconds of it gives me a headache.

    The shots with bokeh or selective focus, however, were very nice. I love the shot of the pool table and of the boat. I think those were the best. The one with the girl on the couch was nice, too.

    ALL OF THAT SAID, I'm always happy to read up on new/different techniques, and I may play with this, despite the physical fact that I get a headache. Why? It will help me learn my camera even better. (Nikon D60, bought last April.)

  • cath55

    September 7, 2009 06:01 pm

    Brian said "what makes a good photograph is focus. Not necessarily literally (i.e. sharp images) but some sort of focus.". I agree.
    Nikonboy's photo of the bike works for me because something about it (a graininess or texture maybe?) helps my eyes rest on the canvas. I think the strong colours and contrast help too.

    However just plain blurred makes my eyes ache as they insist on trying to focus on something that can't be focused. However, add something to the image such as a texture, and they are happy. The main image is still not sharp but the 'edges' of the texture help the eye stop at the 'canvas' rather than trying to find a point in the distance where it thinks it will find focus but that doesn't actually exist.. This is probably why I don't have a problem with fuzzy paintings such as those by Turner.

    It would be interesting to run a poll to see whether there is any correlation between disliking blurred photos and short-sightedness.

  • Mike

    September 7, 2009 06:29 am

    Hark! cascadehush has pronounced, and it therefore must be so!

    Also: you kids get offa my lawn!

  • mrsrobinson

    September 7, 2009 05:51 am

    Hey cascade,

    You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes you could express yourself in a kinder manner. Thanks.

  • CascadeHush

    September 7, 2009 02:52 am

    What a load of utter crap. Artsy-fartsy nonsense from people who are bored with life and have to think up stupid novelties to amuse themselves. The emperor has no clothes and these images have no merit.

    As someone who has worn glasses most of my life, these images mostly just give me a headache. The entire world looks like that to me until I find my glasses and it's just annoying.

  • Benji

    September 4, 2009 03:21 pm

    Every time I see shots with no focus, especially when they are lauded as having artistic value, I scratch my head. Call me backwards and uncultured.

  • Daniel

    September 3, 2009 12:47 pm

    Interesting article. I really like the photo with Mickey Mouse.

  • wedding photography toronto

    August 29, 2009 06:54 am

    I like some of the shot - they create illusion

  • KJ

    August 23, 2009 03:20 am

    Not entirely OT, Lucrecia Martel is an Argentinian filmmaker of considerable ability (comparisons have been made with Michelangelo Antonioni). Her latest "The Headless Woman" is in release. In this film she employs shallow DOF and blur-inducing lenses to tell the story.

    http://micropsia.blogspot.com/2009/08/mystery-of-lucrecia-martels-headless.html

  • Ian Atkinson

    August 22, 2009 11:37 pm

    They're all great shots, but they do follow one rule. If you break a rule, break it good and hard.

  • peter k

    August 21, 2009 02:53 am

    I like a lot out of focus shots, but those here...well, I don't know...the second one seems interesting to me. The rest look just like focus mistakes or aperture forgotten on f4 instead of f11

  • levisandaharness

    August 19, 2009 10:05 pm

    That's an excellent point, gerryymar. In my experience knowing proessional photographers a good portion of our best or favorite work is accidental. The secret is we just don't tell anyone that!

  • gerryymar

    August 17, 2009 10:13 am

    It's a nice twist but how does anyone know wether the photographers iintent was to shoot out of focus in the first place. If a profession and I were to take the exact same shot who would receive the acalades. I certainly have had my quota of out-of-focus shots. Although mine were not intentional who's to say if one of those may become a prized picture.

  • Mike

    August 16, 2009 07:05 am

    Darren, I wouldn't refer to the 4 images that are not fully out of focus as "in selective focus," because all shots that are in focus somewhere are selectively focused on some number of potential subjects. This is true even if all potential subjects are in focus – the entire frame – in, say, a photo made at f/64 and focused at the hyperfocal distance with everything closer to the lens placed out of the frame... who's to say that focus on everything is not the point of the shot? Moreover, most images are truly focused only on part of the frame – it's just the bokeh here that makes the issue of focus so... well... sharp. :-)

    Instead, the images you've selected raise the intriguing question of how to read a photograph – e.g., what are the primary, secondary, tertiary, etc. (or "main" and "supporting") subjects of the composition? This is an aesthetic and interpretive question. From one perspective, the intention of the photographer determines the importance of elements in the composition. For example, RobW may have considered the three ball to be the primary subject of his composition, waiting to be struck by the cue ball, cue stick and player – all of which are then secondary elements informing appreciation of the three ball.

    From another perspective, though, the photographer's intentions are irrelevant and the viewer decides how the photograph itself speaks. Obviously, this is going to be at least as much about the viewer and his or her worldview as about the photograph itself. For example, by referring to RobW's pool shot as "in selective focus" and in the context of a post on "out of focus" shots, you may be of the opinion that the pool player is the main subject of the shot – or perhaps that the entire tableau of pool table, cue, balls and player is the unitary subject of the shot. In that case, the image selectively focuses on a secondary element to create a certain effect on the player through bokeh (perhaps making her mysterious or saying something about her singular concentration on the task at hand, i.e., she is the three ball, Zen-like).

    In contrast, I may be of the opinion that I described above as potentially that of the photographer, in which the three ball is the main subject and the image is all about impending impact, calm before the storm, etc. In this case, the image is no more in "selective focus" than if it were a head shot, because the primary subject is entirely in focus.

    On the other hand, I might be in a mood in which I'm primarily interested in the point of impact between the cue stick and the cue ball – the point at which the intention of the player meets the destiny of the three ball (at least, assuming she's a decent shot). In that case, I'd want the narrow field of focus further back, to catch the cue ball and the player's hand. Of course, this angle is not optimal for that composition, but even if it were optimal, this three-ball image fails if I'm reading for that point of cue-stick impact. So, when folks say that they don't like the images in this thread, they may just be looking for – reading for – something else. Of course, once you get to the completely out-of-focus images, you get to representational vs. abstract, photography as art vs. recording and so forth.

  • Junglebear

    August 16, 2009 02:30 am

    Another great example here, that reminded me of this post so I had to share it!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/seymikins/3792600082/

  • Rhonda

    August 15, 2009 01:54 am

    Isn't photography considered an art? Everyone doesn't have to love every form of art or every art piece for that matter. Take it or leave it, but don't condem it. I believe it comes down to 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'

  • rick lumpas

    August 14, 2009 11:11 pm

    I better examine my out of focus shots before deleting them.

  • Paul Langereis

    August 14, 2009 03:51 pm

    Coming from a fine arts background, I found that i liked all of these images, whether they are or are not intentionally out of focus. To me they "break the mould" of traditional photography, which, as I have read from reviews here, many people do not like. I realize that some of the totally out of focus shots could be construed as not being photography, but then what about over-processed HDR images and Photoshop altered images? Are these still photographs, when compared to tack sharp unaltered photos?

  • Val

    August 14, 2009 10:20 am

    As I look at each shot I want to understand the reason behind the shot. In reaching the public I believe a good shot is one that makes the mind reach a conclusion, and each person looking at the photo will reach their own conclusion. Capturing a persons imagination is a great thing. Be selective, with purpose and a story behind your shots. Out of focus shots are great if it gives someone the ability to come to some conclusion as to its purpose.

  • Liz Gibson

    August 14, 2009 09:08 am

    I respectfully disagree. None of these images work for me, specifically because they are out of focus.

  • mrsrobinson

    August 14, 2009 06:21 am

    Looking at the ones that are entirely (and extremely) out of focus messes with my eyes unless they are very simple and graphic, like the first one (which I love). Generally I think I prefer the ones with at least some part in focus, or at least my brain and eyes like them better...:)

  • Scott Johnson

    August 14, 2009 03:06 am

    Out of focus shots give me a headache.

  • myself!

    August 13, 2009 08:04 pm

    1. Grab the 35mm f/1.8

    2. Take a picture of something. Anything.

    3. Bask in your genius.

  • steabe

    August 13, 2009 07:27 pm

    I think some of these don’t qualify as out of focus, but rather selective focus. Namely the bubbles, pool, grass, and boat..

  • Amanda

    August 13, 2009 05:29 pm

    I find this type of photography really fun and can make you really look at the way you shoot.
    It's clever to try something different.
    Thanks for the links!

  • jamc

    August 13, 2009 04:32 pm

    many of those socalled 'great' photos can be done by just about anyone having a hand, a finger and a camera … most are plain dull and don't trigger any emotion whatsoever … others have definitely style (such as the boat and the billiard player) … however, i'm still wondering what's to digg on this page

  • Johnny MAck

    August 13, 2009 02:34 pm

    Wow, excellent shots dude. Well done indeed!

    RT
    http://www.anon-web-tools.net.tc

  • Nikonboy

    August 13, 2009 06:00 am

    Nice examples. And some of the photos posted here among the comments would be worth publisjhing in the main post... :)
    Here is my contribution, let me know what you think of it.

    http://laci.blog.hu/2008/11/25/amsterdam_by_weed

  • awahid

    August 13, 2009 04:42 am

    I like to experiment these types of shots. I think It would be harder to explain what you wanted to capture in the scene.

  • Joel

    August 12, 2009 01:37 am

    I really need to get that Nikon AF-S 35mm f1.8 for my D60. I think it will help me with these kind of photos.

  • KJ

    August 12, 2009 12:01 am

    Ilan, that shot reminds me of the old Blue Note album covers. Nicely done.

    This was a happy accident. I was at a riding stable with my girlfriend. I was carrying a P&S. I caught this:
    http://www.zooomr.com/photos/rxpictures/7947825/

  • Lauri

    August 11, 2009 10:52 pm

    I find the out of focus style to have some great posibilities creating a certain type of mood and atmosphere. The mickey mouse one is fantastic and the girl on the bed quite mysterious and alluring.

    Heres one of my onpurpose unfocused picks: http://www.flickr.com/photos/larrycabin/3810710913/

  • Jeffrey Kontur

    August 11, 2009 10:42 pm

    This site has been taken over by negative, judgmental people who refuse to allow that anyone with a vision different from their own is capable of producing anything worthwhile.

  • Eric Mesa

    August 11, 2009 09:40 pm

    I think some of these don't qualify as out of focus, but rather selective focus. Namely the bubbles, pool, grass, and boat.

  • bee

    August 11, 2009 05:51 pm

    I like this style!

  • Kontra

    August 11, 2009 05:26 pm

    How about this one from NiH: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mybd/3190408285/

    Not exactly an "Out of Focus" frame, but things that *are beyond the focusing perimeter is what makes the shot so vibrant and interesting.

  • Lois

    August 11, 2009 11:49 am

  • MeiTeng

    August 11, 2009 11:07 am

    I like the image by dotbenjamin. This technique may not be everyone's cup of tea but it's worth trying it out.

  • Lois

    August 11, 2009 10:05 am

    Same thing happened to me and i ended up loving the photo

  • Dave

    August 11, 2009 09:45 am

    I think some of these are interesting at least. I tried to do something like this.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/D.VanAtta71/RiversidePark?authkey=Gv1sRgCNPI7aHVq4_jlQE#5368484692043177810
    My friend who I was shooting with that day didn't get it but i liked it.

  • Amy Cham

    August 11, 2009 09:37 am

    Some of my favorite shots end up being accidents (and I don't mind admitting it!) Baby squiggles out of my f1.4 DoF, sudden lighting change or test shot results in crazy overexposure. At this point in time, I'm working on thinking creatively when these accidents happen, rather than dismissing the pic as "wrong." Next step in my personal photography development will be to make these "accidents" deliberate to get what I want.

    I will say that some of the fully out of focus pics gave me a bit of a headache. (The B&W on the couch is nice, though.)

  • Rolling Stone

    August 11, 2009 08:03 am

    Some of these images are focused on something within the image. Wouldn't that just be called bokeh? Just trying to learn.

  • Redd Dyver

    August 11, 2009 07:06 am

    i also agree with most the comments here... "a picture is worth a thousand words".. make sure it says at least something comprehensible. It's okay to leave a little mystery (the crowd, the statue, the pool player, the child with bubbles, the boat).. as long as the general gist is given, let the viewer fill in the rest for themselves.... but when you can't even make out a subject or emotion, it's as if you're thousand words are in a different language.
    just my opinion

  • Mark W

    August 11, 2009 06:16 am

    I don't believe any of these are sooc intentionally unfocused shots...unless something else is in the mix (filter, gel, vaseline, you have it). Emphasis on sooc...maybe the 3-ball shot...but the rest have been processed for effect...I'd prefer the title "13 Examples of Great Photos When Being Out of Focus was the starting point in producing a great picture"

  • Zack Jones

    August 11, 2009 05:50 am

    @cath55: I agree with your statement about the shots making your eyes hurt.

  • cath55

    August 11, 2009 05:36 am

    Sorry, not convinced. They make my eyes hurt.
    I am short sighted and the habit of trying to focus is hard to break.
    'Blurred' paintings I can cope with, but blurred photos - No.

  • Larry

    August 11, 2009 05:06 am

    Before you say you don't like these, imagine them blown up very large for wall hangings. Sometimes you want something muted that just adds to the color of a room. You can create amazing abstract art by just aiming the camera and blowing the focus out. I love it.

    And no, I disagree that you can achieve similar results in post with Photoshop or whatever. You can approximate the look but it will always look fake. Blur filters just make a soupy mess by spreading pixels around. Real lens blur gives a very magical glow that almost gives away the lens used (some of these pics are using a 50/1.8 I think) because of the way the light is diffused by the optics. Specular highlights, bokeh, I've never seen this capability convincingly rendered by any plugin.

  • Doug Tanner

    August 11, 2009 04:58 am

    These remind me a bit of an I took a few months ago.

  • Guy McLaren

    August 11, 2009 04:58 am

    The only shot that is even worth publishing is the pool shot, That illustrates Depth of focus. All the other shots are just badly framed. Theres a difference between soft and out of focus.

  • regina eliason

    August 11, 2009 04:55 am

    I tried this while camping a few weeks ago. Was able to catch my family on Grandpa's fishing boat. I really like the out of focus effect.
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2492/3749974790_0547fd430d_b.jpg

  • Amandalynn

    August 11, 2009 04:47 am

    I agree that the blur effect can be easily added in post... however, I think there's a certain quality to intentionally out of focus photos that are shot that way, as opposed to those that are "fixed" later. Out of focus subjects might not be everyone's cup of tea, but there's nothing wrong with a little experimentation - which is what I think this article is really about.

    I'm really quite fond of photo #12, I don't think it would be anything remarkable without the blur and the hints of natural bokeh on the rim of the boat, but with them it's a really beautiful shot.

  • R. Kneschke

    August 11, 2009 04:26 am

    Hm, somehow I only like the 8. image a bit. the "totally out of focus" images give me nothing. I agreee more with reznor that this can be done more easily in Photoshop (but usually shoudn't).

  • Brian

    August 11, 2009 04:10 am

    Yeah, I have to agree that I think what makes a good photograph is focus. Not necessarily literally (i.e. sharp images) but some sort of focus. I like the first image because of its simplicity. The out of focus has a purpose. The only other shots I like is when something is in focus, especially the shot of the child chasing the bubbles and the boat. I personally don't really see the point of the extremely out of focus blur. I like the one of the woman on the couch as it is just enough out of focus to have an interesting artistic flair. As for the rest... not a fan. But that's what great about art. I don't have to love it because I know someone out there will.

  • Reznor

    August 11, 2009 03:58 am

    You really have to know what you're doing and what you want from the shot. Otherwise you might be really disappointed when you missed a great shot because it's completely out of focus. Personally, I always try to capture scenes as sharp as possible because you can always add lense blur afterwards. It's not as good as real depth of field but gives you more flexibility. Try saving a picture that's out of focus. No chance.

    My rule of thumb is: capture as much detail and information as possible and do the artistic stuff in post production.

    That's my amateur approach to photography, as I said, if you have a picture in mind and you know exactly what you're doing, you can try this. If you miss a great shot because of this, you might regret it.

  • Mattie Shoes

    August 11, 2009 03:56 am

    I was at a 49ers training camp and got this accidentally out of focus shot. I think my camera is in love.

  • Danferno

    August 11, 2009 03:41 am

    The only images I liked were those who still focused on something.

  • kimrose

    August 11, 2009 03:16 am

    I love shots that break the standards... and think these out of focus shots are very creative and artistic! could make for a good project :)

  • Jozef Nagy

    August 11, 2009 03:12 am

    I've found that the most useful out of focus shots for me are ones that can be used as textures in other photos, as wallpapers, or that can be re-purposed for graphic design purposes. They don't necessarily have to serve as stand along photos.

  • Martin Barabe

    August 11, 2009 02:39 am

    Interesting technique but for my part, i believe that only a few of the shots presented are trully thought of purposely out of focus shots and the others seem to me to be just mistakes that turned out somewhat good.

  • jerka

    August 11, 2009 02:23 am

    Nice selections. I'll certainly give a try the next time i'll go out to take photos.
    I tried to break that rule of focus during last 14th of July ( National holyday in france). I think it works great with fireworks too ;

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/art-e-fact/3719696747/ (I used a nikon D90 and Sigma 28-70 F2.8 @ 58mm).

  • Ilan

    August 11, 2009 01:58 am

    Great examples indeed.
    No focus is just another way of breaking the rules, and it's one of the easiest and first 'rule' to be broken, when photographer is starting to explore more than just the sharp focus and perfect exposure - And that's always welcome :)

    Here is an example of nightly urban view with no focus - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/10/night.html - I used the 50mm f/1.8 for this shot.

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