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I recently decided to ditch my typical style of photography and opt to experiment with having the objects out of focus. I'm slightly indifferent with the results (as I'm learning this effect, will link below a few test shots) however I wanted to gather a quick opinion of other photographers.

Given these are deliberately shot out of focus, the idea behind these is to still be able to read the picture from the lights alone (I.e. the bridge or the bus) I'm wondering if that's been achieved. If not any ideas why you say so?

Do the below photos below have/need a specific object to draw your attention? (the bridge for example, had I taken in-focus would be the main subject however by doing this I've made the lights the main and the bridge is more something that is interpreted by the viewer)

Would it help if there was more information for the viewer to better understand the image (example being the bus in the second image, you can make out it's a bus through the lights however has that been properly achieved?)

Bear in mind the example (second image) isn't mine nor bares much with my shot as mine was at night and a lot more minimalistic I feel. Nevertheless here's the best example I could find of said out-of-focus style. Also I've actually got an album of 8 photos, unfortunately I'm not allowed to post more than 2 photos so the top is my own, where as the second is an example off the internet (when I find out how to add the full album I'll do so ASAP)

my attempt (unfortunately can't link my whole album) example found off the internet

closed as primarily opinion-based by Philip Kendall, scottbb, inkista, Olin Lathrop, Caleb Feb 20 '17 at 20:38

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    If you like it, do it. What other people think matters only if you're trying to sell pictures. – Philip Kendall Feb 19 '17 at 14:06
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    This is not a question that can yield a definitive answer, and so I think is not really appropriate to this forum, as opposed to a more discussion (vs. Q&A) venue. FWIW I think out of focus photography just looks like someone made a mistake, but that's subjective. I also think a blue rectangle is not art, but art galleries have them hanging. – Linwood Feb 19 '17 at 14:13
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    You probably want to read our meta question on photo critique questions; "I would like feedback" is too opinion based for Stack Exchange's Q&A format. – Philip Kendall Feb 19 '17 at 14:27
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    @PhilipKendall from reading the meta, photo criticism isn't prohibited rather it just needs to have focus. My focus is on the style of photography and whether I've been able too replicate that & if not what I could do to make it better. The response "I think it looks like someone made a mistake" from the previous guy is less than helpful surely? – Kristopher Rahim Afful-Brown Feb 19 '17 at 14:39
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    @KristopherRahimAfful-Brown It is helpful in the sense that it is probably the primary response one would get from a random group of viewers if asked to evaluate the images. – Michael C Feb 19 '17 at 17:58
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Edited after OP added "sample" photo they like. It seems to me that second picture carries very distinct silhouette of river bank (reminds me of Big Ben tower in London) and also a lot of rhythmic on light blobs. Your image (first) is more of strokes of light with subject obscured, it is much more abstract; plus ther eseems to be a lot of motion blur, not sure you really wanted that.

The trick for you, I guess, is to find subject that will remain recognizable after defocussing. Composing so that background lights are not overwhelming subject is very important (second image have basically flat background: water and sky). As an example of similar art, see this New Yorker cover. It is very low-resolution image, but if you know the original picture, you will recognize it. This "Aha!" moment is maybe something you are looking to recreate.

There is a lot of feedback in comments. I'd like to offer some help to OP though.

Quick googling by "out of focus photography" yields a lot of images, some of which are probably to OP's liking. More importantly, some of those images definitely have "special effects", tricks that make images stand out, but also interesting subjects.

To get opinion on this platform, you should state what you wanted to achieve. Then viewers can say, whether you achieved it, or -- more importantly -- how you can change your technique to achieve that result later.

So, it might be useful to attach sample image that you like and ask something like: "how do I produce that awesome effect of ..... ?" Or you might rephrase question to be something like: "I want my pictures to have X, Y, and Z, but can't get it. Am I missing something?"

You can edit question, add others' images that you like, more precise technique-based questions. As it looks now, question is off-topic for this platform (photo@stachexchange)

PS: I would also suggest renaming your question, as it is more about "how to achieve that effect" or "tricks and tips for out-of-focus photography"

  • Thanks for the response, unfortunately because I don't use this board as much as my other ones I don't have enough points so can post two pics maximum. Else if have done that tbh. Next time I'll try word it better. Though anyone can shoot out of focus (not exactly difficult) there's obviously a way to do so that still brings some meaning to the shot surely? This kind of thing may be too abstract in thinking tbh (fyi I typically do shoot normally just wanted a go with this sort of style and see what sort of reception it would have garnered) – Kristopher Rahim Afful-Brown Feb 19 '17 at 18:27
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    i suggest you post picture A: what you have and B: how you want it to look – aaaaaa Feb 19 '17 at 18:51
  • due to only having a max of 2 photo links allowed (don't have enough badges/points sadly) I've had to choose a different photo of mine to compare with an example I found on the internet. Sadly as it's rather niche not many examples online so this is the closest one I could muster that is similar to what I did (there's examples that vary from very out of focus to more bokeh like images) – Kristopher Rahim Afful-Brown Feb 19 '17 at 19:28
  • i edited my answer hopefully adding some helpful feedback – aaaaaa Feb 19 '17 at 21:52
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You can do whatever you like- it's called art. One well known photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, did a whole series of iconic buildings focused at "twice infinity". I'm not completely sure what that means, but the result was a pretty interesting emphasis of form over detail. You can see some examples here and here.

  • The obvious interpretation of "twice infinity" is to put the lens at twice its focal length from the film, such that the sharp image is formed halfway between the lens and the film. – Peter Taylor Feb 20 '17 at 7:33
  • I figured, since he's using a LF camera. His images don't seem to be quite as out of focus as I'd expect for a twice infinity focus. BTW, if you put the lens further away from the film plane you're actually focusing -closer- to the camera, not further away. – BobT Feb 20 '17 at 14:40
  • Pictures that you linked made me check my glasses :) Art for one is myopia for others, that's why it shouldn't be discussed on StackExchange – aaaaaa Feb 20 '17 at 18:51
  • @aaaaaa fairs that. I'll have to check the if there's an art forum as I'm sure I'd get a better response lol – Kristopher Rahim Afful-Brown Feb 20 '17 at 20:57

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