Lady Vervaine 7:14pm, 10 June 2009
i've been thinking lately about our historical precedents, and i thought it might be interesting to start a thread for people to post examples of focusschmocus through history - for inspiration, and for discussion.

it turns out that many of my favourite photographers have produced fully blurred images on occasion, and i found myself wondering where and how it all began.... even before photography: i was marvelling at some turners in the national gallery the other day, and silently welcoming him into our group....

so please: dig out your favourite historical examples of focusschmocus - whether photographs, paintings, or whatever - and post them here for us all to mull over. please accompany the image with a little text explaining who made the image, and when, and how, and any other information that might be relevant.....
Tomb Land PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Tomb Land (member) 7 years ago
Robert Capa's work on Omaha Beach springs to mind:


[from www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=2567...]

June 6th, 1944.
It's blurred as a result of, well, being in the middle of a nightmare battle field. Or as you'll read below, perhaps from excitement! But would I like to see that image perfectly sharp? No thanks...

Other relevant info from Wikipedia:
His most famous work occurred on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) when he swam ashore with the second assault wave on Omaha Beach. He was armed with two Contax II cameras mounted with 50 mm lenses and several rolls of spare film. Capa took 106 pictures in the first couple of hours of the invasion. However, a staff member at Life in London made a mistake in the darkroom; he set the dryer too high and melted the emulsion in the negatives in three complete rolls and over half of a fourth roll. Only eight frames in total were recovered.[8] Capa never said a word to the London bureau chief about the loss of three and a half rolls of his D-Day landing film.[9]

Although a fifteen-year-old lab assistant named Dennis Banks was responsible for the accident, another account, now largely accepted as untrue but which gained widespread currency, blamed Larry Burrows, who worked in the lab not as a technician but as a "tea-boy". [10] Life magazine printed 10 of the frames in its June 19, 1944 issue with captions that described the footage as "slightly out of focus", explaining that Capa's hands were shaking in the excitement of the moment (something which he denied).[11] Capa used this phrase as the title of his autobiographical account of the war, Slightly Out of Focus.


Here's the link if you want to read in full:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
oh wow - that is a great one, tom - thank you so much for your research!

i would never have associated capa with focusschmocus, but i find this an incredibly effective and moving image.... and i agree - it would not be nearly as effective if it was perfectly sharp!
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concrete4 7 years ago
I've been meaning to do this all week...

Most of these aren't "through history"
but these are some contemporary photographers
I would invite if I could



R J Shaughnessy's Night



the wonderfully named (and talented) Ian Teh



Yaniv Waissa



Alyson Belcher's pinhole self-portrait silver gelatin prints




Kyungwoo Chun



This whole set by Alexander Binder is frankly astonishing, I struggled to pick something.



My favourite of the bunch, Debbie Carlos

And one I can't put an example of due to peskily designed website:
John Chiara
Lady Vervaine Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Lady Vervaine (member) 7 years ago
oh man! what a brilliant buncha focusschmocuses!! i would fave/schmave the lot if i could!!!

it's a funny synchronicity - i came across ian teh's work for the first time just last week, at a friend's house - seems his partner is an old mate of mr teh's, and they've got a couple of his things up on their living room wall - seriously amazing work!

i will check out the others - starting, coz it's love at first sight, with alyson belcher & alexander binder.....

in the meantime - a question from a total technical incompetent: how exactly do you copy a picture from another website (or from somewhere on your computer for that matter) & paste it here, without first making it part of your own flickr stream? i've been trying to post some stuff on this thread and haven't quite been able to do it....
Eni Turkeshi Imagery 7 years ago
Amazing stuff
thanks for sharing
Tomb Land PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Tomb Land (member) 7 years ago
hey Lady
i wrote you a lengthy response, but it would have been no use to you as it included HTML code that Flickr converted. you couldn't actually see the code i was giving you. so i'll mail it to you instead...
Le Masurier PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Le Masurier (member) 7 years ago
1826, the first photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. A day long exposure.
link

I couldn't figure the image post thing. It would work for the preview but not for the post.

Doh, even this doesn't work. Sorry you'll have to google it.
Emre Ucar 7 years ago
Thank you for sharing, lovely and useful sharing
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concrete4 7 years ago
did you get instructions LV?

glad people liked those; at some point we could start a list of contemporary photography blogs, which is where i found them all.

to return to the history end--i'm definitely with Le Masuerier that there's a wonderful schmocus element (I much prefer our word to Walter Benjamin's term aura, although the latter's got some good connotations) to some of the absolute earliest photos. The air of mystery and tenuous personality in early portraits is wonderful.

Gonna have to put some thought into more classic examples, although the obvious one that springs to mind is Saul Leiter's rainy days
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
i did get the instructions - thanks very much tom! i'm going to attempt to post something soon....

in the meantime - thank you for the niepce reference, philip - i do find all that early photography stuff absolutely fascinating.... and i'm particularly glad that you posted that, as it was a conversation with you that started me thinking along these lines, some time ago!

saul leiter of course is one of my heroes, so big yay to see him represented here.... though i can well imagine concrete & i having a good debate as to whether the picture (especially the window) is entirely out of focus or not....
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
So here goes.... I'm nominating Edward Steichen as an early pioneer of photographic focusschmocus - particularly in his pictorialist period....







Lady Vervaine Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Lady Vervaine (member) 7 years ago
oh, and a list of recommended blogs would be super-magnificent and very helpful - probably needs a thread all of its own?
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concrete4 7 years ago
yeah i'll get on that at some point

to all of those (if only i could write to him and tell him): mmmmm
Le Masurier PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Le Masurier (member) 7 years ago
After the last failed attempt to post perhaps I can now completely go off on an ego trip and post my own little piece of history. This is almost 25 years old now, from an exhibition I had just out of art school called Wake. I feel old!

Wake
Le Masurier PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by Le Masurier (member) 7 years ago
I'm with you Lady re. Steichen, he was one of my early loves. I started out when Ansel Adams and the F64 club held sway. The pictorialists were very out of fashion, I on the other hand still had a love for the pictorialist approach. When I was a keen young fashion photographer, some friends and I started a little club called the F1.4 club as a light hearted rejection of the F64 club.

I'll always love the mystery that lurks in the shadows and around the fuzzy edges of life.
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
the f1.4 club! what a great name! and i must say, the shadows & fuzzy edges are definitely my favourite places too.....
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
holy crap, i just looked at the alexander binder page that concrete suggested, and it pretty much blew my head off! this one in particular i think is an incredible image:

Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
Though they're obviously not photographs - here's a couple of those Turner schmocuses I was excited about at the top of this thread.... I'm amazed by the dynamism of these images, their sense of movement and speed:



cookie poppets 7 years ago
I love Miroslav Tichy's images. There's something so unartful and naive about their lack of focus, the result of homemade equipment:

www.paulhina.com/hinablog-archives/tichy2.jpg

marnamateria.w.interia.pl/tichy_article.jpg
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concrete4 7 years ago
those are both lovely. they look like gerhardt richter's source images..

i suppose he's another person who should be mentioned here, although i've still not recovered from the disappointment of seeing his paintings in real life and finding them incredibly unconvincing--they work much much better printed...
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
yeah, thanks so much for the links cookie poppets - i agree that tichy is fascinating.... i sometimes feel there's something a little pervy about his furtive pictures of semi-clad ladies, but i cannot resist the texture of his images - so distant & blurry they seem to be emanating from another galaxy.... it's very beautiful work, and inspiring too, considering that many of his cameras are apparently made blue peter-style from bits of old loo rolls!

as for gerhard - i've never seen them in real life, but can well believe it.... i did see an amazing book recently of his painted-over photographs that kinda blew me away....
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concrete4 7 years ago
Another slightly less contemporary one:
Moriyama Daidō (Daidō Moriyama in English), a tremendously evocative photographer:
Lady Vervaine 7 years ago
mmm, i love his night stuff! definitely an inspiration....
The tamed shrew PRO Posted 7 years ago. Edited by The tamed shrew (member) 7 years ago
A more modern example is Uta Barth, born Berlin and now in Los Angeles. In another group, we recently had a month of attempting emulations of her work. Some of us got to like her oof shots very much.

images.google.co.uk/images?sourceid=navclient&rlz=1T4...
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concrete4 7 years ago
yes, of course. don't know why we haven't mentioned her already. i totally fell in love with her work when i saw it recently.
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The Gentleman Amateur Posted 7 years ago. Edited by The Gentleman Amateur (admin) 7 years ago
I've been wanting to get a book of hers for a while now, but haven't been able to find any in the real world. Does anyone know if this is a good one?
songs for the skies [deleted] 7 years ago
this is a great thread, inspirational.
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concrete4 7 years ago
TGA--yes I think that's pretty much the main one around, and it's the one i loved, so i'd go w that!

glad to hear it, joe
david..richardson 7 years ago
I was just about to add that best flickr thread I've seeen for ages!
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concrete4 7 years ago
to carry this on, two i found whilst away:

Jerry Burchard (who doesn't seem to have a website):


and

Toru Aoki
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The Gentleman Amateur 7 years ago
I did a blog post recently on Nancy Rexroth, whose pioneering Diana blurs are well worth investigating:



m4rkb Posted 7 years ago. Edited by m4rkb (member) 7 years ago
I can't find a version without the watermarks (it's in the Magnum book) but this is one of my favourite blurred images:



Koudelka, Prague 1960
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The Gentleman Amateur Posted 7 years ago. Edited by The Gentleman Amateur (admin) 7 years ago
That is a really gorgeous one - though arguably the ground at the very bottom is a bit sharp?
m4rkb 7 years ago
Meh, I did say blurred images :-)
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concrete4 7 years ago
Another new one:


Bryan Graf
JSDouble Posted 7 years ago. Edited by JSDouble (member) 7 years ago
and another:

bill jacobson
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concrete4 7 years ago
ooh
he's very good indeed
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The Gentleman Amateur 7 years ago
Yes, they're great. I wonder what he uses? It looks to me like a combination of defocussing, and some kind of filter?
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concrete4 7 years ago
Just seen Bruce Conew's series "I See You"
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concrete4 7 years ago
More contemporary people...


Daniel Ballesteros


Julien Bayle
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The Gentleman Amateur 7 years ago
Stunning stuff!
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concrete4 Posted 7 years ago. Edited by concrete4 (admin) 7 years ago
this one's a painter, but totally fits in with the thread; Marienne Buitendijk uses an air brush (pretty damn cool!) to make these lovely things:

Guy Batey 7 years ago
Igor Posner

Or this that shake rather than blur?

Anyway, I finally have a shot in focusschmocus. My life is complete.
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The Gentleman Amateur 7 years ago
Those are excellent.

Guy, it's exciting to see you schmocussing! Keep shaking that camera!
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concrete4 Posted 7 years ago. Edited by concrete4 (admin) 7 years ago
Guy-- I knew you couldn't resist forever...

Another discovery (TGA-- you can start drooling now):

Gloria Chung; her series November is utterly delectable




and Detail is also wonderfully blurry



I find it very exciting to see how many photographers are out there rocking it schmocus style...
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The Gentleman Amateur 7 years ago
Oh, droooooolllll!!!!
dub_focus 7 years ago
mr. polke's radioactive stones on large negatives are one of my favourites soft schmocus to date. unfortunately i dont find nice images on the web, maybe i'm going to scan from the book.



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concrete4 Posted 7 years ago. Edited by concrete4 (admin) 7 years ago
Another one
mmm
Virgillio Ferreira. His project Uncanny Places is astonishingly unlike anything I've seen before



Daily Pilgrims also does some lovely interesting things:
Check out the amazing images from Marc Yankus
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concrete4 6 years ago
the first couple of these make me very happy: www.huhmagazine.co.uk/view_article.php?id=746
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The Gentleman Amateur 6 years ago
Those are definitely happy-making - very blissful!
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concrete4 6 years ago
Woo, a long time since we've put anything in here.



Igor Posner, aside from having a great name, has a ton of beautiful schmocussy things.
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The Gentleman Amateur Posted 6 years ago. Edited by The Gentleman Amateur (admin) 6 years ago
I wish I was called Igor Posner!

....and had made schmocuses like that....

They remind me a little of Michael Ackerman, whose amazing work I've recently discovered:





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