I’ve written many times of the evils of automation, how bad an idea it was (and is) to link autofocus to the shutter release and other philosophical ramblings on techno-distractions. I came across an image today as the result of my insanely long and recursive edit process. The mere fact this image came up so long after I made it confirms in some way how valid my own personal process for editing is — for me. It also brought some of those ramblings I mentioned above back to the forefront of my thoughts.
I shot this picture on my first Fuji X100S about a year and a half ago. I never would have made this picture if autofocus was linked to my shutter button. I probably wouldn’t have made it or even thought or reacted to do so if I didn’t regularly shoot manual focus lenses on both film and digital cameras. In your head you can logic yourself into thinking that you could but I know that in my case I definitely wouldn’t have.
A couple of thoughts to consider I’ll re-hash.
- In many many cases autofocus is superfluous; A distraction that slows you down and distracts you from the subject in front of you. The act of re-re-re-re-re focusing or re-re-re-re confirmation of focus is slow and unnecessary. It’s a disease I personally acquired somewhere along the line after the introduction of autofocus. If you have AF linked to your shutter release there’s no choice. It’s almost as if that’s what the camera is telling you is the right way. Sure in some critical circumstances like shooting really close wide open where an inch or a half-inch is in or out of focus in a critical way that’s different. Go ahead refocus or confirm focus between every shot.
- I happen to make quite a few pictures that are out of focus on purpose. Not all the time. In many cases they don’t work out. In some cases I like them far better because they convey the mood I was attempting to capture better. These fall into the category of forethought just like the pictures I make that are in perfect focus under conditions described above.
- This particular image at the top falls into a second category. Let’s call it the reaction or semi-conscious bin of things that happen. I obviously decided to make the photograph. I decided to make it knowing how my camera was set — manual and very far out based on the last thing I shot. I wasn’t standing there deciding that the next image I was going to make was going to be out of focus on purpose. That’s how my camera was set for a shot I made a few minutes ago. The semi-conscious part comes in where I knew all this and decided to trip the shutter anyway rather than hurry up and refocus or whatever. good chance it would have been gone as this particular set of circumstances/pov/gesture/etc lasted milliseconds.
Just one of many situations where due to factors one could consider constraints or flaws causes me to act differently in a given situation. I’m a big fan of certain constraints depending on the job at hand. I’ve mentioned using the Fuji X100 series of cameras does influence a lot of things that are hard to pin down in quantification — one of the reasons I like the little bugger. I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion I tend to be a little looser when using it as my sole camera. This kind of thing is but one concrete example of a ton of stuff I pile into the looser term.
Ps. I’m still working on that eBook A Highly Opinionated Guide To Fujifilm’s X100 Series of Cameras