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Soup for fun!

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

I was prowling around the house with a camera one day trying to shoot something “different”, when I came across my wife Cindy enjoying a bowl of soup at the dining room table. What do you think? Aesthetically pleasing or no? It’s intended as a fun image. Would you hang it in a restaurant or a kitchen, for example? Why or why not?

Canon 30D, EF50mm f1.4 USM lens. 1/50 sec, f2.2, ISO 400. Ambient light. Slightly cropped but otherwise no post-processing.

DragonFlyer DragonFlyer 2263 posts

for me (personal opinion only…) – I find this image a little ‘troubling’ in it’s ‘confusion’ (? hard to find the right word…).
With the all over soft focus and relatively even toning it does not to me have a focal point of interest, and the many patterns leave my eye confused re what I’m looking at, leaving me with the impression that my eye is bouncing around all over the place – not really looking AT anything…

This image might work for me very effectively if , for example, you wife had been wearing a plain black top at the time you took this image, leaving only her face, the spoon and the part of her hand ‘visible’ in lighter tones in the soft focus.

I’ve tried a few ‘soft focus’ images myself, and I tend to feel they need a ‘simple’ subject with very simple ‘lines’ and tones to make it clear what the eye is looking at. Here, the bit of the image that my eye keeps getting drawn to most strongly is the darkest patch in the top LH corner… not the ‘most interesting’ part of the image, you might say… and probably not what you would be after as a focal point.

So, these would be my reasons why I would not hang this in a restaurant or my kitchen…. and also why it does not ‘work’ aesthetically for me as it is….

Lawrence Crisostomo Lawrence Criso... 223 posts

Theres still hope to great pictures other than yours. Get out and try.

giohugueth giohugueth 2 posts

I agree with DragonFlyer…there is not a focus point. It seems like you were trying to manually focus and failed in the try. I don’t find this aesthetically pleasing, because there is not a depth of field and it confuses the audience on what to look for.

Patrick Robertson Patrick Robertson 24 posts

I also agree needs a focus point otherwise it just looks like a blur.. I do like what your trying to do it would probably work out better in a painting rather than photography.

BYRON BYRON 12026 posts

Hiya Doug,

I am quite the fan of out-of focus (OOF), in much the same way as I like impressionist paintings. I like the mystery and the way we have to interpret the image.

You have some great colours here, and your technique is good – its nicely OOF. But there are a few compositional and artistic elements missing which would really help this image.

My primary concerns are the lack of clear subject, and a noisy background which constantly vies for the viewer’s attention. I also feel that you are way too close to your subject for the viewer to really engage with the image.


Look at this image by DAVID APOSTOL

DAVID has clearly given us a subject and by using lines and repetition and perspective he draws the viewer’s eyes from the small area which is in-focus down towards his subject.

Use of lines, repetition, and perspective help maintain the viewer’s interest beyond the initial impression that the image is very out of focus.


Look at this image by JONE VAITKUTE

JONE has done several images in this series, which are well worth checking out.

JONE has used OOF to create a mood. To give the viewer a sense of place and moment.

JONE has included secondary subjects (the dresser, the chair, the bed…) which anchor the Primary Subject firmly in its environment giving the viewer a strong sense of place (a hotel room?) The addition of secondary subjects or Points of Interest, gives the viewer more to look at other than the primary subject.

JONE’s Primary subject, a half naked woman, is posed interestingly, and being OOF and in front of a bright window enhances the dream-like romantic feeling of this image, which again adds to the viewer’s interest.


One technique alone will rarely make for a great photograph. You still need to consider other aspects which apply to all forms of photography, namely:

  1. Composition. (Primary and Secondary Subject placement)
  2. Subject Choice.
  3. Creating Viewer Interest / Story-telling.
  4. Controlling Light and shadow.

A good start, but I would like to see you apply the same techniques of composition and subject choice that you would apply to an in-focus image and try this one again.

Doug Wilkening Doug Wilkening 416 posts

Very wise words, Byron. I will take them to heart.