Mr. Lee, Famous Cricket Wrangler (Retired)

+Sean Duggan posted a link to his blog about "Seeing the Potential in a Less Than Perfect Photo." This is one such of my own

Our tour group had just finished a traditional hutong lunch. A hutong is one of those ancient neighborhoods in Beijing that have mostly disappeared, and only recently the government has realized that too much of their cultural heritage has been bulldozed to make way for highrise apartments. I didn’t care much for the food. Funny thing about what tourist groups are presented with. One wonders what the Chinese really eat. But I digress.

The after lunch program didn’t sound very interesting. Who wants to see some old fighting cricket trainer? Nevertheless, while the presentation was going on, I was strolling around the small courtyard taking pictures, and at one point while Mr. Lee was showing his scrapbook of newspaper clippings I snapped this. (Turns out, Mr. Lee is very interesting, animated and funny! )

On seeing the picture enlarged on my laptop that evening at the hotel, I was quite disappointed: there was not a single in-focus pixel in it due to camera shake, and yet it was the frame I most wanted to be good!

At home, I played around with it in Photoshop. You know, “Can I sharpen this? What will happen if . . . ?” The problem is focus- or the lack thereof. How do I focus Mr. Lee? Ahh, I know, I thought, I’ll make him the most focused thing in the frame. Thus, I did two things (mainly): I de-focused the foreground and background, and also darkened both. This made Mr. Lee’s face relatively sharp by contrast.

This photo became one of my most positively commented upon Photoshop User portfolio entries. What seemed so disappointing at first turned out well in the end with a bit of “Seeing the Potential in a Less Than Perfect Photo.” And you know what? I like it.

Rolling Shutter Effect

The rolling shutter phenomenon has recently become a kind of art form. This photo is the result of taking a picture from a moving bus in London. May Day protests at Trafalgar Square, 1 May 2004. I’ve always been fascinated by the way the foreground is bent, yet the background appears normal.


What To Do With Out of Focus Photos?

I see what can come of them regardless. It’s educational, don’t you know!

There was this switch on my crummy little camera that I had, for setting the focal length to either close up or infinity which, in the process of putting the camera into its case or removing it, could snag and switch settings. It was on close up all day, and the LCD on the camera was so small, I didn’t see that my shots were out of focus. It wasn’t until seeing the photos on my laptop in the evening that I discovered what was wrong. It happened again later in the week. D’Oh

Well, you get what you get— but what you do with what you get? You may not always end up with something you’re willing to show publicly, but you may still learn some things along the way that will increase your frequency of success.