Where to Focus?

April 16, 2013  •  1 Comment

Woods April14 0050 Today I am indulging in a little philosophical riff and I hope viewers don't mind. One of the wonderful attributes of still photography is that allows one to see the world differently such as in a macro shot. Or it allows us to see an one moment frozen in time but that single moment tells an entire story. A classic example is Dorothea Lange's Migrant Mother, which I consider one of the most powerful images I have ever seen. The image shown here is of ivy vine growing up a tree. The image was made by putting the camera against the tree and shooting along the axis of the tree and ivy. The lens was a Nikkor 85mm macro and the image is a textbook example of the shallow depth of field of macro lenses. The depth of field was further minimized by an aperture of 4.5. The focal point was put on an intermediate leaf cluster yielding blurred splotches of color from the foilage above and below. If I had shot the image with everything in focus, I don't think the image would have been nearly as interesting. Photographically I was able to minimize distracting elements but leave them in supportive roles. For me this is very much a metaphor for life. Some rare individuals, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, are true polymaths who can succeed at many different things. But most of us need to focus and push to the background distractions. We need to decide what is important to us and by maintaining our focus I believe we all become more interesting "images".


Comments

Ann Littlefield Coleman(non-registered)
Interesting thought. Does this mean I can focus on what I want to do and not have to fix dinner tonight? Probably not. But you are correct in not getting so pulled apart that you focus on nothing. What a confusing life that would be. I have always loved pictures with just a few items, such as the old rocker on the porch of the weather beaten house where someone's grandma used to live, or a single tree in a large field (I love trees so want to give them their own space) or a little flag flying at the corner of my hometown when someone bothered to get up early to get the shot just as the sun was coming up over the deserted street. Focus is a good thing. It is the glue that holds our pictures (and thoughts) together.
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