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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Shallow focus or deep?

  • Life: odds are, you already know what to do. You just don't wanna, or are too scared.
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  • Several years ago, the Gazette's publisher said we had to give our columns titles. I ended up choosing "Depth of Field".
    I case you've ever wondered, it's a photography term. It refers to how much you keep in focus.
    When you see a photo with just one thing sharp and clear, and everything in front of and behind it blurry, that picture doesn't have much depth-of-field.
    When you see a photo that's sharp and clear all the way out in front of the camera, that photo has lots of depth-of-field.
    The great thing about depth-of-field is that in many cases, the photographer has control over how much to keep sharp and in focus.
    If you want to direct the viewers' attention on just one object in the frame, you can adjust the camera and lens to do it.
    If you want everything to be reasonably clear and sharp, from five feet out in front of you out to infinity, you can do that too — within certain limitations.
    I chose "Depth-of-Field" as a title because it strikes me as not just a photo term, but a mental and emotional one, too.
    When you focus all your mental and emotional energies on just one object in your life, you can get really intense about it, but everything else in the world disappears into a mental fog.
    But if you wish to perceive everything in your life clearly, everything can carry equal weight. You don't have any sense of priorities, any sense that one thing is more important than another.
    The trick, as with everything else in life, is groping for a balance. You want the most important things in your life to be clear and sharp, and the unimportant things to fade off a bit.
    Of course, it helps to take the lens cap off.
    . . . . .
    Speaking of photography....
    Six or seven years ago, I met a 23-year old recent college graduate who had never shot a roll of film. He'd never taken anything other than digital photos.
    I felt sad for him. He'd never know the joy of putting his hands in toxic chemicals dozens of times a day, of going home smelling like a chemical factory, of struggling to change rolls of film in below-zero weather, of having to make every shot count because you only had 36 pictures on the roll, and forgot to bring any more rolls with you....
    Ah, the good old days....
    It sounds bizarre, but I'm not completely joking when I say I miss those things. Because of the difficulties, not in spite of them, photographs had a sense of handmade craftsmanship you just don't get with pixels, Photoshop, and ink-jet printers.
    Page 2 of 2 - It's like the difference between a chest of drawers manufactured by a machine, and one made with hand-tools in a master craftsman's garage. Both chests hold your socks, but folks, there is a difference.
    Nevertheless, I refuse to trade in my Nikon D300. Nostalgia only goes so far.
    . . . . .
    Scented deodorants are a contradiction in terms.
    . . . . .
    Life: odds are, you already know what to do. You just don't wanna, or are too scared.

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