Out of Focus

By: pbcmedia

Oct 20 2008

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: anxiety, Art, Blogs, Creativity, FINANCES, Life, Personal, Photography, Politics


Focal Length:100mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

I’d like to speak on the health and artistic benefits of being out of focus, at least temporarily.

I don’t believe that is taught in photography school but, nonetheless, it’s my niche.  My only artistic decision when approaching this intersection was “How out of focus do I want the image to be?”.

When I see the end result I realize that if I wasn’t worrying about money, I’d enlarge photographs such as this to 36 by 36 and let them dominate every room in my house, my thoughts, and those of anyone who visits.

It would be better than talking politics or worrying about the financial world collapsing.

Both subjects together in the same month stretched my usual robust appetite for reality to the breaking point and I snapped in slow motion.

One morning I just didn’t turn on the TV or read my newspapers on line.  Instead, I went out to the car with my camera bag and wandered around my town, stopping here there and, sometimes, only stopping at intersections, as depicted here.  Some of the photographs were in focus, but my favorites were not.

I turned off the TV.  I did not listen to my usual news or commentary programs.  I did not watch the debates.  I turned it on one time without the sound.  The Angry Guy vs the Calm Guy.   I’m voting for the calm guy.  And, don’t get me started on Mayberry Moose.

My home page on my computer is set to the NYTimes but I accessed the web through my blog so I wouldn’t have to see the front page and the red ink of the Dow.  I didn’t listen to the radio while driving except on days when I was feeling brave.  There weren’t too many of them, I can tell you.  I had my CD playing the Beethoven Violin concertos instead of the usual radio stations.

It was not easy remaining “out of focus”.  People call.  IPhones surf.  Radios have news updates. TV’s have their incessant news crawl beneath regular programming.  I ended up knowing each day what had happened but  I didn’t listen to it “live”.  I put my focus on to “manual” on my camera and in my life.

But, when I rolled into a stop light, manual focusing took some time and inevitably would take a bit longer than the light switching to green.  Each time I heard a horn, I wanted to lean out the window and turn my head like those celebrities do for the Clairol hair coloring products and yell, “Hey!  This picture was worth it!”

But, I didn’t lean out the window.  I just give it the gas and hoped the next intersection would be “yellow” as I approached so I’d have time to manually focus the out of focus and make me some “aahrt” from these daily lights and shadows.

©Pat Coakley 2008


8 comments on “Out of Focus”

  1. I tend to live my life out of focus most of the time. There are things that perhaps need to be pulled into view and concentrated on with no obstruction in the way, but it is the things that lurk just out of range that draw my attention. It’s like looking around the tree in front of your face to see the deer standing a few yards in the distance . . .

  2. Great shot. Looks like something Rothko would’ve done if he’d been into circles and was in a good mood. I know you haven’t been in a good mood lately but I find the image light and cheerful.

    Good for you turning away from all the noise in the media. Sometimes, for me at least, engaging with the mass media is a little like staring into a sewer.

    Although the financial and political news is disconcerting and worrying, life does go on. Have you ever noticed how fretting over something has never helped the situation but time still inexorably moved forward.

    I think spending your time being creative instead of choosing to be sucked into the mass media maelstrom, is a vastly more productive and satisfying thing to do.

  3. i did that too, started ignoring the news, it was and still is a great way to work. defocus, get a sense of a bigger picture. at times you need to know some factual matters but jeepers most of the time you really dont. i realized that when just one day i had to get up to snuff on the market happenings after a certain statement arrived in the mail (i am also very good at ignoring mail ha ha) ok, so then i saw what was lost, and talked to a few people but then it didnt seem to change anything since i’m practiced in frugal anyway and so my 401k might not be there when i need it but since we dont know anything about the future anyway why worry about it now i tell myself and shut off the tv again. because there is this present the present. i have to get some work done no matter what else, know what i mean?

  4. and oh i must say that is a gorgeous picture perhaps you could offer larger prints made to order set up a webpage or something? your photography is pure art with substance and spice and i love the idea of that one being a big big wall size that would be so great! fill a whole gallery with them, (Then get to fill your walls too)

  5. Lovely shot. There’s something seventies nightclub about it: psychedelia and chemical haze…
    I have to say that sometimes I embarrass myself by how little I watch/ read the news. I’m almost always the one who says “REALLY? When did that happen?” It’s because some time back I found that watching the evening news gave me bad dreams. So I gave up watching and strangely enough I could sleep again.
    Stay out of focus as long as you like, Pat. When something is important enough to take your attention, you’ll flick back INTO focus automatically. It’s as if the brain knows what really matters and what we can cope without and filters it accordingly.

  6. Really love this one, couldn’t agree more out of focus is sometimes the better focus, through that things can some how become more clear.

  7. Nice description, Tysdaddy. If one would wake up every day looking at the tree (death) we wouldn’t get out of bed, so I think this is a survival mechanism to look around.
    Razz: now, thank you for this: “looks like a Rothko if he’d been into circles and in a good mood!” Hilarious comment but of course Mr. R is one of my favorites.
    Tipota: because there is present the present…how artful a phrase! And, I have begun to redo my website with just some of those commercial thoughts in mind! We’ll see what happens.
    Epic, You know, I used to think the same way. But, I’m not so sure now. If you go out of focus out of fear it does something to your brain circuitry so I’m not sure the regular filters apply. I’m going to be thinking more about this subject, I can tell you that.
    Yes, sanity, I do think one of the byproducts is that sometimes other things do become clearer. This is a fascinating subject, really.

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