160213 Sharpness - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Over on TOP Mike Johnston recently asked the question: does sharpness matter? The conclusion sort of reduces itself to 'well, yes, maybe sometimes, but not really', because it's impossible to say that any one thing is an absolute in photography. Because, of course, photography isn't just one thing. Sharpness absolutely matters for reproducing fine art, but blurred dance photos can be far more evocative than crisp ones. It's all in the application.

These are a couple more photos taken when I went to Home Depot last weekend. They're not sharp. Would a more advanced camera, locked down on a tripod, set to something other than 1/8s and iso1600, have produced better results?

Since these are my photos, I can say definitively: no. I wouldn't have carried a tripod, and if I did, it wouldn't be to here and I wouldn't have taken these photos. If I owned one of the new low-light uber-cameras – funny how the four-year-old D800 doesn't really qualify for that any more – I also wouldn't have been carrying it for a quick run to the suburbs. Even if I had carried the GR instead of the GRDiv for that trip I don't think that a little less noise would have made any improvement. I might actually like them less.

Photography is a technical exercise, but photos aren't. Do these photos look like it's late on a cold night, in a place that's made for many people who aren't there? Does it look empty, utilitarian, overbuilt, and under-utilized? Does it look like I – we, as the viewer – are going somewhere that we weren't anticipated, to spaces that aren't really meant to be visited, because nobody planned for us in anything but the most rudimentary sense?

If the answer to any of that is 'yes', then the photos work the way I saw them. 

Would they work better if they were pixel-sharp and noise free? Probably not – and more to the point, it doesn't really matter.


Powered by SmugMug Log In