photo of the month
from randy kato


I've been hearing a lot lately about "out of focus" and blurry photos - whether it's an unintentional result that has people asking what's wrong with their camera (when they probably should be asking what's wrong with the photographer), or the purposeful pursuit of bokeh.

Whether by mistake or not, an out of focus image can be incredibly beautiful. I have often pressed the shutter button accidentally and later been mesmerized by the image that was captured.

I've tried many techniques for creating abstract imagery by playing with focus, to varying degrees of success. To intentionally capture a captivating image by actually focusing on something that isn't there is extremely difficult.

When it's done well, however, there can be an ethereal beauty to the photograph that goes deeper than the focal plane. If you think of the point of focus as the place that connects you to the image, what happens when that connection point is removed? In some ways it detaches you and lends a dream-like quality to the image. In other ways it draws you deeper into the image as you try to pull things into focus and get a more 'clear' understanding of what you're seeing.

This month's photo is a serendipitous combination of the intentional and the random.

Some friends were studio-sitting at a massive studio/loft space and invited a bunch of us to come hang out - quite a treat in Manhattan. Since the space was so vast, I was able to play with a long, wide-aperture (200mm, f2.8) lens that could really blow out a background and make some nice portraits.

I had focused on Maki in the foreground, with the background well obscured in the distance. But when I took the picture, she moved, thus mixing motion blur with depth of field blur. The whole photo is "blurry" but the foreground and background remain distinct, making for an intriguing portrait.

I've always loved this shot for many reasons, including the secret of what made her move, but I'll let that remain a mystery.


Photo of the Month archive