Less is More

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Out-of-focus image in a forest

Photography is known mostly for its ability to depict fine detail. Detail is the most exploited property of the medium (think photos from space and ever-increasing digital resolutions). However, it isn’t the only reason for the medium’s existence. Some early photographers valued the aesthetic experience of blurred or manipulated images.

Of course, there are no absolutes in how things are depicted. Blurred images can explore interesting territories, such as memory and Jungian symbols. Freed from the matter-of-factness of sharp images their power lies in allusion and suggestion. Less is more. Whether it is done in camera or in post-processing, the defocused image is more universal than the factual depiction of the things in front of the camera at any given moment. It is a general description as opposed to a specific description.

This is not to say defocused images enjoy exclusive domain in exploring archetypes. It is just that they lean in that direction. These two pictures rely on backlighting through a defocused lens to suggest (to me) waking from sleep on a sunny afternoon — in essence, transitioning back to the world from some other place where things are less defined. One picture is darker than the other and conveys a slightly more serious mood.

Out-of-focus photograph of a forest

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