Current photography standards seem to embrace sharpness, clean focus-on-eyes and razor-blade-precise lines. I can no longer begin to count the number of articles I’ve read where photographers analyze photos, stating the photo just isn’t a success, since full focus wasn’t on some woman’s retina, but the corner of her eye lid, or the edges were a bit buffed, because a cheap flawed lens was too open. Yep, total disaster – trash it all!
But then, to each his own and live & let live...
Blur, if not bokeh, is often chalked off as a missed shot. Utter nonsense. Blur is cool.
About a year ago I bought an excessively cheap Kamlan 50mm f1.1 APS-C lens for my Sony A7ii.
So I bought this lens that could be considered sub-standard for my camera in that it was not for Sony’s full frame. It ended up making some cool shots.
I can’t really use “sharp” in the same sentence with the Kamlan 50mm f1.1; it wouldn’t be appropriate. However I can definitely confirm that the Kamlan wide-open brings glow, warmth, soft vibrance and an oneiric essence to the subject of each shot that it glorifies with unique bokeh.
Moving away from the standards of sharpness, attempting to mimic real life, can open the ways to creative blur, where sharp just stands out like a sore thumb.
Blur is not new, I didn’t just create a new photography wave with my little Kamlan; it’s been around for some time now. In 20’s and 30’s and even up into the 80’s, photographers created this effect by smearing vaseline directly on the lens. A thicker layer of that petroleum jelly applied around the edges created greater blurriness while a thinner swipe would allow a clearer view on a specific point. Even the direction of the smear could create a dramatic effect! Though it sounds cool, I’m not sure of the long-term effects of petrolatum on the parts of a lens. If you want to try this today, protect your lens with plastic wrap held to your lens with a rubber band, and, only then, apply the vaseline directly to the plastic film which will protect your lens.