Hobbies are basically about having fun—whatever that means to anyone—and I have to confess I do some weird things to amuse myself. For example: sometimes, when I run across an online JPEG I like on a photo-sharing site, but it's just wrong, I'll download it and correct it. Why on earth would I do such a useless thing? Beats me. Fun, I guess.
I sometimes take giant digital files of my own and make new pictures by enlarging small and, usually, nearly incoherent sections of them. Why? I guess because sometimes I just like what going on in mysterious little areas of the image, is all. It has no use, it makes no sense. It's something I occasionally do.
Also, I don't pixel-peep. I bokeh-peep. Why? Again, it's useless and pointless and (even) stupid. But I like the way lenses render, and I "see" things in lens images most people don't (I can see curvature of field in some pictures, for instance, and most people can't; ditto spherical aberration. Etc.).
Take this picture, "babscolor2," by "lensjunkie," which can be found online here:
(And note that it's legal for me to post the picture here, because we're discussing it, and Fair Use allows limited reproduction of pictures for purposes of commentary or criticism. I'll still take the picture down if I'm asked, though.) Anyhoo, I can tell from the Christmas-light bokeh in the upper right that the shot was made with the lens wide open; but my mind cannot grok what sort of object might have caused that wacky florette shape just under the left-hand edge of the large white rectangle. Veeery mysterious! A Jewish star decoration? Dunno.
I can also tell a few more things about the lens from this, but I'm not going to stick my neck out.
From a photo-technical perspective, sharpness is what interests most people. Hence pixel-peeping. To me, sharpness is the least interesting thing about a modern lens. They're all sharp enough, and more of it just doesn't do a thing for me.
One thing I will say is that 99.9 of all "lens testing" falls under the category of Just Having Fun—you can be a photographer with nearly any lens.
(Thanks to xxx)
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A book of interest today:
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kevin Bourque: "What is the hexagonal thingie? If he'd only shot it with a Lytro we could just go refocus it and find out."
John Minor: "I am in the other camp, the razor sharp micro contrast that can make your eyes bleed camp. And for the same reason you like bokeh explorations. I love to take a sharp landscape and zoom in to see what hidden treasures can be found. I took a landscape of a distant lakeshore, where you could just make out a deer standing on the far side. The enlargement revealed a fawn taking a drink while Mom stood watch. That stuff is just too cool to me."
MikeT.: "Since photography is just a hobby for me, I enjoy reading about it and playing with images with software now. The one above is one I captured from here and then resized and worked on it with several software packages to get a really presentable B&W image from it [above]. It only took about 10 minutes of work and thought this would enhance the original to some degree. It was really sharp but noisy and my attempt, made it come out to be a keeper I think. It would have taken hours of darkroom work using film/paper to do what I did in 10 minutes of computer enhancing.
"Keep up the interesting topics Mike, I sure enjoy reading all of it."
John Robison: "'Just having fun' is where you find it. Different for each person. I like building/modifying photographic contraptions. The strange thing is that after I finish a project I may only test it with film once, or perhaps not at all, the fun is in the designing and building of the thing."
Mike replies: Very, very true that fun is personal, even idiosyncratic. And regarding your contraptions, I know people who were like that with darkrooms. The fun for them was designing and building, rather than using. I've even known guys who were like that with cars—they loved the restoration work but didn't much enjoy driving their masterpieces.