“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
There are many quotes attributed to Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of them being that – “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept”. With this image I have taken his saying quite literally. To an extreme in fact because there is absolutely nothing sharp or in focus anywhere in the frame. As a consequence this picture is sure to divide opinion.
When I took the shot I quite deliberatly adjusted the focus ring to give me an out of focus image. It was also shot with a wide aperture opening to minimise the depth of field, further ensuring a blurred image. The light was reasonably good and with a maximum shutter speed on my camera of 1/4000th of a second, I had to use a 3 stop ND filter to avoid blown highlights. In processing I added grain, a vignette and split toned the image.
Ignoring the complete lack of any sharpness the viewer can still discern a man, virtually a silhouette, standing on the beach watching his dog standing in the water. The ripples of the sea along the foreshore and the distant land mass on the horizon provide a sense of depth, and the placement of the man and his dog on the intersection of the thirds gives balance to the overall composition. There is also a triangle which is formed from the man’s head, out to the dog and back to the man’s feet.
I know this is what might be described as a ‘marmite’ shot – you either love it or hate it. Or perhaps you simply can’t understand why the photographer couldn’t at the very least focus his camera properly!
So does this image appeal to the viewer or is it quickly rejected for being technically poor because nothing is sharp, even though that was my intention at the outset? Does this very soft image portray a mood or feeling which would be non existent if the image had been sharp from front to back? There are so many questions and in my view there are no right or wrong answers. It’s my creative vision of a simple scene – one man and his dog, alone on the shoreline…..and the rest is down to your interpretation and imagination.
As always your comments and thoughts on this post would be most welcome.