Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Challenges of an In Focus Photographer

In Focus photographers are faced with the daily challenges of overcoming photographic prejudices and stereotypes that dictate a photograph must ALWAYS be tack sharp or must ALWAYS be perfectly exposed or must ALWAYS have the correct white balance. With the proliferation of photo-manipulation software, photographers are now being told they MUST always shoot RAW and they MUST add post-processing to their workflow if they want to be taken seriously. Photographers who abide by these “laws of photography” are stuck in the proverbial rut and unable to express themselves artistically – their images look just like everyone else’s.

Consider for a moment, if you will, that some of the world’s most famous and expensive paintings do not necessarily represent reality accurately. Paintings such as Pablo Picasso’s “Femme assise dans un jardin” ($49.6 mil.), Willem de Kooning’s “Police Gazette” ($63.5 mil.), and the world’s most expensive painting, Jackson Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948” ($140 mil.). These painters didn’t care what the world would think about their paintings – they just fulfilled a personal vision they may have had and decided to go against the grain of common artistic expectations.

And so it must be with us In Focus photographers – if we are to make a statement about what photographic art is, then we must make our voices heard loud and clear. We must be rise up to the challenge and stare it in the eye and say, “No! My photographs DO NOT need to be tack sharp or perfectly exposed!” We must be willing to explore and experiment with isolating or combining different techniques without worrying about what others may think. If our voices are loud enough, others will eventually awaken to the sound of a new photographic revolution.

I recently read about a technique in which photographers enhance an image by overlaying a texture onto the image using post-processing techniques. This particular article included a how-to and, while it was interesting and resulted in some beautiful effects, one thing bothered me: the author commented that it was impossible achieve this in-camera. Being the type of person who takes it as a personal challenge when told they can’t do something, I decided to prove the author wrong. I quickly thought about what needed to be done, which was easy because it involves at least a double-exposure. Second was subject, and third was the texture.

Using the resources I had available to me at the time, I decided to use my son as the subject and the pattern on the chair cushion as the texture. It took about ten shots of tweaking the camera settings and lighting to get the effect you see in the picture. I think I proved the author wrong…


  1. You proved the world wrong Chris. Thanks so much for making a difference.

  2. Chris,

    Your photo looks like an oil painting...
    Wonderful work.


  3. Thank you both! Dorothy, your comment is affirmation that I achieved the effect I had envisioned. Thank you so much!


  4. I appreciate the comparisons to artists like Picasso and how they transcended the "tradition" of the day to express their own ideas. They knew the "accepted" techniques, but went beyond to make their own vision. I feel I need to know all the "proper" techniques, exposures and sharp focus first, then I can become creative with them in my own way. I love your portrait of your son. The mood is so peaceful and the whole composition is beautifully balanced.

  5. Excellent work Chris! Keep showing them what an artist can do versus a wiz with software.

  6. Wow Chris! Great Job! Your photo shows what's really possible "in camera".


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