Blurry Photos

– Posted in: Garden Photography

What’s wrong with this photo?

Let me explain. First it is not sideways if you drop your left ear to your shoulder, which is the way I was seeing things for a while.   All  a matter of perspective; and I am dealing with a lot of perception issues these days because I am undergoing treatment for a detached retina.  I am in the hands of some great doctors and surgeons.  Prognosis is good and I don’t need to go into all the details.

The day I shot this photo of my deck, to interest an editor in some potential shooting, I went to the eye doctor to check on some persistent blurriness in one part of one of my eyes.  Next thing I know I am under treatment and have to hold my head sideways so as to keep a gas bubble (black shapes) in place against my retina.

While I am still undergoing treatment, no longer needing to hold my head sideways, I am beginning to wonder about the artistic merit of blurry photos.  It is hard to take an out of focus photo anymore, since almost all photographers use auto focus camera and lenses.  Sure, sometime there are special situations that demand manual focus, but in these modern times, blurry photos are more likely the result of shaky camera movement than bad focus.

But sometimes blurriness can lead to artistic insight.  I am quite nearsighted and sometimes find inspiration walking gardens without my glasses.  Blocks of shape, color, and texture can be reduced to their most basic compositional elements in this way.  Pure impressionism that I seldom share.  This is about to change.

I expect full recovery; but even so, we only use one eye when we take a picture. It is one of my lessons in the workshops, to squint at a scene with one eye to approximate what a camera sees.  But I am coming to realize perception is a relative term.  For the sake of a common visual language we have made everything sharp and detail oriented, but there are other ways to express ideas. Other ways long neglected along my professional path.

So, to my editors: fear not that I will forget how to focus, but to my muse, let’s see where this takes us.  Might be wild.

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at
Saxon Holt

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