A Photograph Has Less Value if It’s Full of Flaws
Clarity and focus are two words that play heavily when creating plus evaluating a photograph; this is something that Heather and I take into great consideration when we create our fine art photographs. We especially take the clarity and focus of our images into account during our preplanning, or pre-visualization process of a conceptual photo.
We’ll start out with a concept or idea that is inspired by life around us, or things that we see, then discuss it in great detail. The first part of the discussion is what is the focus—the main activity, action, or point of interest in our photo? As an example, when we did our recent photography adventure in the Bahamas, we new we would capture a photo of Heather with the famous “Lone Tree.”
What we didn’t know was how to incorporate Heather into the scene while capturing the tree and then it came to us as explained in the article, The Lone Tree, Harbour Island. From there we progressed with identifying the ability to understand our concept of creating a fine art photo of Heather with this famous tree without creating confusion. Quite honestly, that became a challenge during the execution of the image as told in that latter article.
Focus in general terms is if the image is sharply focused, and if not, is selective focus used so that part of the image is intentionally slightly out of focus as part of the composition that draws you into the image. Obviously our goal with my shooting style is that my subject is in sharp focus and rarely do I rely on selective focus as part of my composition. Focus also means you must identify a focus point in the image whether it’s an actual subject, event, thing or action.
What is the main focus of the image is something to ask during a self-critique of your photos. Does the photograph keep the viewer focused on the intent of the image or does the viewer wander off because the image is weak and lost its focus? As you can see, the word focus when it comes to photography has various meanings, not just one.
When you have an image in focus, that provides an interesting focal point, and keeps the viewer focused on its intended message, a photo is said to have clarity. Clarity is often a simple but precise message, either apparent or transparent in the photo, and when there is no clarity in an image, it’s said that the photo is ambiguous and can create confusion.
Clarity in photography also means that the photograph is properly executed following the principles, fundamentals and concepts of photography—in other words, the photo is properly exposed and composed. Similar to how clarity of a diamond factors into the value of that diamond, a photograph has less value if it’s full of flaws.
A photo with focus and clarity expresses a clear thought almost instantly to the viewer. A photographer has to take into account their intended audience, beyond the subject itself. The audience or viewers are in fact the litmus test of an image. What good is a movie if no one sees it? A still photograph is in fact just a frame captured in a fraction of a second of the movies in our minds. As Ansel Adams once stated, “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
Preplanning, or pre-visualization of a conceptual photo is a process that will help ensure your image is sharp in focus plus focused to the point that it provides clarity to the viewer for the message it’s trying to convey with either no or minimal flaws. When this process is successful, chances are you have created, and/or are viewing a fine art photograph—a masterpiece.
With that I close, and as always, I ask you not to forget the men and women who so proudly and patriotically serve to protect our freedoms, God Bless them, their families and their friends, Rolando.