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Monday, March 18, 2013

Tack Sharp Vs. Blur

At what point do you figure motion blur affects your photo?

This has been a question that has plagued photographers for ages. There's the camp that states that all photos have to be tack sharp, not an edge out of focus on the subject. Then there are those who say that blur is acceptable especially when it adds to the appeal of the photo. But when does it add to the appeal of the photo? And that is the question that needs to be answered.

This is a shot that I would term as unuseably blurry. The image is of three blurry hockey players. It adds nothing to the image. The background is completely blurry and there's no other rectifying aspect of this image as the action is blocked by the bodies of the players.

This is what is known as a "tack sharp" image. The image is not soft, the focus is on the face of the player and the player is moving directly towards the camera. No lateral movement means that there is no movement to the sides that would trick the focus of the image.

This image is not tack sharp. This image is as a result of a panning motion with the D300s/70-200mm f/2.8 VRII. But what it does add is horizontal blur panning from left to right. Because the skates were moving quicker than the panning motion of the camera, the skates are a blur, as is the background. But the saving grace of this image is the fact that the action is right there in front of the photographer, the puck is in view, the speed of the skater and the pace of the game is noticeable.

The problematic point of photography is that most photographers come at the photographic art form with the mindset of the "portrait photographer" saying that photographs are not perfect unless they are tack-sharp. So where does that put the action photos that capture the pace of a game? Are all sports photographs not acceptable unless they depict a moment "frozen in time" the baseball and the pitcher all frozen with the ball suspended in air "tack-sharp"? Unless one captures the pace of the game, there is no true capture of the game.

Happy Shooting!

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