Ansel Adams said: “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”
After yesterday’s blog post in which I looked at the factors that influence sharpness in an image, the following statement might sound a bit contradictory but it’s something that, apart from echoing the quote above, is holding many people back from growing their own wildlife photography.
A sharp image is not necessarily a good image and there is so much more to creating wildlife images.
Can you really tell me that when you pick up your camera, when you decide to capture a moment, your ultimate goal is to create the sharpest image possible? For the love of everything that is good in nature, I hope not. I hope that your photographic vision is not limited to how sharp your image is going to be and that that is want you want to show your viewers. Sure, you should most definitely try and create images that are not unnecessarily blurry or soft but it should not be the reason why you pick up your camera.
Apart from someone looking at a beautiful wildlife image and asking “what camera was this taken with?” the next most random comment is “wow that is a sharp image“. Is it really that important? More so than the story, mood or feeling that you were trying to convey? I think not. I also think it is quite sad that a beautiful moment gets reduced to the type of camera it was taken with or a single technical aspect that should only form a part of the bigger picture.
For certain type of images, and granted it is probably more often than not the case, sharpness is definitely important but allowing this to become the sole focus of your photography will only stunt your vision and the creative possibilities available to you as a photographer.
What about feeling? What about the mood a specific scene or subject evokes and ultimately drives you to click the shutter? If a sharp rendition of that moment is required, by all means make sure you create the sharpest image possible, but I seriously struggle to think of a situation where the sharpness of an image starts the creative process which will lead you to ultimately capture a moment.
Practise makes perfect they say but if you practise too much, you risk that the thing you practice becomes predetermined and for your conclusions to always be the same.
Why don’t we rather play more? As children we did and the joy we derived from trying new things, experimenting and not worrying about being judged resulted in amazing experiences, which in turn led to new ideas, which in turn led to new games, which in turn led to more new experiences, and so on and so forth.
Every image you take does not have to be sharp but every image you take has to be you.
Allow yourself creative freedom by not worrying about being judged by the masses on social media.
Actually, let’s say it like it really is… allow yourself creative freedom by not judging yourself or your images based on a set of antiquated photographic guidelines that is kept in the spotlight by the masses on social media.
There are so many techniques you can use and so many different ways in which you can capture the mood, stories and feelings if you only allow yourself to play a little. Yes, you will make mistakes and yes you will end up with many, many images that never go past your Lightroom catalog, but you will grow as a photographer, you might just actually enjoy the process and you will end up with images that show people more than just a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
You will show people a feeling and if you truly believe in what you are doing, more than a feeling.
Chobe River, Botswana
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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