Does an image have to be sharp....?

Estimating the number of words written on the subject of ‘sharpness’ in photography would be difficult and probably futile. The subject is fraught with subjective discussions on what makes a ‘sharp’ image. Discussions, both real and online, are frequent and often inconclusive.

Many of these discussions miss an important point – the final image. The ‘look’ of certain lenses are not necessarily dependent on a single parameter i.e. how sharp they are.  The interest in the modern interpretation of classic lenses such as the Petzval ( proves that how a lens renders across an image, its bokeh (a subjective and lengthy discussion in its own right), depth of field and of course sharpness is important to many photographers.

The image above was taken in East Tsavo, Kenya. I had focussed on the juvenile bird waiting for a parent to bring food. However light was failing and the shutter speed was insufficient to freeze the motion. I almost deleted it immediately. However there was something about the motion blur coupled with the interaction between the juvenile bird and its parent that I liked.

Returning home I looked at it again and with a little cropping to remove unwanted intrusions at the side of the frame settled on the final image. Overall the feedback from this image has been positive. Interestingly no one has ever commented on it not being sharp!