Over at Beyond Layers, our focus this week is blur. Somehow that sounds a bit contradictory doesn't it?
For this assignment, Kim gifted us with a new texture to try entitled "Plaster Squared." She also challenged us to choose a theme based on a single word, thought or mood. Today's image are the same tulips I featured last week, just opened up and revealing their lovely interiors.
Soft is the word that came to my mind with this project, and I was reminded of the advice John Ortberg gave in his book The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God's Best Version of You. That is, instead of always trying harder, why not try softer?
I'm a try hard person. That's not necessarily a bad quality to have, and trying hard has allowed me to get ahead in circumstances when I didn't have the natural talent, ability, or education to smooth the path for me. Trying hard has allowed me to push through pain, overcome odds, and transcend adverse circumstances.
But, as Ortberg observes, "there are limits to what trying harder can accomplish." Trying hard has a dark side as well. It can make us prideful, judgemental, controlling, pushy, and rigid.
Trying too hard can also be self-defeating, painful, and lead to feelings of frustration and failure when nothing you "do" seems to bring about the desired outcome.
Some things just can't be fixed, no matter how much elbow grease you put into it. Sorta like this dang circular polarizing filter that seems to be permanently affixed to the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8-4.5 lens I got for Christmas. Apparently, many people have complained about this particular problem with this type of lens, and the general advice WAS to try softer and not squeeze so hard. Still no luck. I'm either going to have to try a filter wrench, take it to a shop, or resign myself to using this lens primarily for outdoor photography.
This past week I've experienced the less desirable effects of trying too hard, so much so, that I'm going to give the trying softer chapter of Ortberg's book a thorough reread.
While I prepared to trudge back over this all too familiar territory, I decided to console myself with some retail therapy and purchased a new Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Lens per Kim's recommendations for achieving this soft and dreamy effect.
The most awesome part about it was that I had a $50 credit at Amazon, and it was on sale, so I got a great deal. No doubt I have a huge learning curve on this lens, but I'm already in love with it.
So, I'll leave you today with some samples of my first attempts with the lens.
The one below is SOCC (straight out of the camera) with only a white balance adjustment in ACR (Adobe Camera Raw).
This one went through a bit more adjusting in ACR and I put some additional "Soft Focus" on it with Topaz Labs Adjust 5.