When To Be Sharp (and when to be fuzzy)

First let us begin today’s post with our two featured images. Two superb photos by two superb photographers. No fuzzy pictures here. Both are exactly as they should be.

First let’s look at wildlife great Charles Glatzer’s memorizing image of an Alaskan Brown Bear fishing. Everything from the pose and expression of the bear, to those frozen (in space) water droplets begs us for attention.

Next we have a powerful rendition of Yosemite National Park’s Alpine Lake, from G. Dan Mitchell. He creates stunning abstracts of the American west.

Wildlife is a photographic subject where most image viewers want the photo to be sharp.  There are  photographers including me who “motion blur” large elegant flocks or birds via the use of slow shutter speeds. Hopefully to a degree that works.  It is of course in the “eye of the beholder”, but it seems that viewers can see some artful and redeeming qualities to such images. Wading birds and some other large birds seem naturally artful, so many accept an artful interpretation of such, yet most of us want crisp, detail laden images of wild animals.

I have been fortunate to create some pretty sharp images of Pheasants fighting, and of Bald Eagles fighting. They have been popular with many and have been published often.

What about motion blurred images of two male Mallard Ducks fighting in my back yard?

I was on my way out to photograph birds one morning and took my usual shortcut through my backyard only to find these two males embroiled in a fierce, and injury promoting fight. It was much too early in the morning to capture sharp, crisp pictures.  I fired my camera at will after deciding to let the chips fall where they may.

They appear almost like a dream, or maybe a nightmare.  They fought long enough for me to review some of the images, and my decision was that I found them interesting and possibly artistic.  The fact that I shot the pictures from ground level, helps make them compelling (my opinion).

Regardless of preferences, when in doubt pull the trigger. Better to delete a few images than to miss the shot.

Certainly no photographer would want all of their wildlife images to be motion blurred.

From fairly distant images and on to close-ups that do not allow for an entire view of the subject, most wildlife images are best (my opinion) when sharp and able to give viewers information. Just the same, there is no rule that wildlife pictures have to be sharp.  There is nothing that says motion blurred images of wild animals cannot be artful.

On to the sharp ones.

Let us begin with a story telling image of a female American Robin feeding her baby. Natural, real world behavior shots usually work best when sharp. Once again that is my personal taste.

A sharp subject with a artistically blurry reflection can work as can an equally sharp reflection. The point is, the subject is sharp.

Action is usually behavior, and a sharp picture helps tell the story of that behavior while often remaining artistic. Of course the bird, in this case a male Common Goldeneye, provides the art. I merely chose to record it.

These next subjects are White-tailed Prairie Dogs. This is a behavioral shot (eating while scanning for predators) and the image works well with the front “dog” in focus, and the secondary subject soft and only in partial view.

Once again the subject was the artist and I just shared it with the world.

Yes, this is a wild animal. A burro to be exact.  Not one of my most difficult subjects to capture. I stopped my car and got out, and waved a plastic bag and she and her friends came trotting to my car.  I decided at the time that this sleepy portrait not only required a sharp and in focus face, but an entirely sharp body and for that matter, a sharp landscape to boot.  She is shown in context of her South Dakota, prairie environment.

Of course, a frame filling image of a fairly large and formidable animal needs  (my opinion) to be so crisp that viewers believe they can feel the texture. Such is the case with this Snapping Turtle.

After all these years, to me, the best hobby or vocation to be had is photography. Even with nearly every person of earth snapping pictures. It provides an outlet for people like myself who cannot paint, cannot sculpt, cannot make music, cannot write music, and only maybe, on the my best day, might be able to contribute a few song lyrics to a good writer. The secret is to fulfill your own personal vision, and maybe, just maybe, teach others to do the same.


I have recently  exhausted myself by exercising self censorship on political subjects. I have never said so little about so much.  The purpose has been primarily to take a break and re-explore photography and any other tame subjects that might occur, but fir me that is nearly impossible.  One day soon, I just might bust wide open and examine what’s been happening.

In the meantime, I will never ignore the subject below.
God’s Word (the Bible) is obviously filled with messages.  Even an atheist would not deny that fact.

One Bible story that everyone, regardless of what you believe, has heard of, is David & Goliath.

The story, which is literal, of course let’s us know that no matter how big our foe is, with God on our side, we can win. Those foes can be  bully’s, drug or alcohol addiction, and even those who hate us because of our faith.  There are many to attack us, often because of their own doubts or self-hatred.

Ultimately, the message was not about how big Goliath was, but rather about how big God is.

May God Bless each of you,

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