One thing I really really wanted to learn was how to make that nice blurry background behind a portrait. Friends, I've stayed up half the night taking pics of my kitchen utensils in my quest to perfect the blurry background. Try as I might, everything in my pics was either perfectly in focus or totally out of focus.
Well, the other night I was feeling a little poorly so I took a steamy bath and then crawled into bed with my photography books. (This is my secret elixir when not feeling well.) So I'm lying there half asleep, leafing through the pages of "Painting with a Lens" by Rod and Robin Deutschmann when I stumbled upon the section called 'punching an image.' Eureka! Finally someone explained this so I could understand it! Holy Cow; I've been doing it all backward!
It was suddenly so simple. Here's what they said in a nutshell...
1. Find a background that you would like to have all blurry behind your subject. You know, pick pretty colors, patterns, etc.
2. Set your camera on a wide aperature and disable the auto-focus. Use a long focal length and look through the lens. Make sure your background is really blurry.
3. Now that you've figured out where to shoot for the background, take your subject and put it smack dab in front of you...as close as you can to your lens and still have it in focus. Move it around a bit until it's focused nicely. (Don't use your focus ring or you'll mess up your background. You'll focus the subject by manually moving it until it's in the right spot.
4. Got it? Now take the picture.
Before reading this I spent hours trying to focus on my subject perfectly, hoping that somehow the background would not be in focus. Backwards! I need to get the background handled first.
Isn't this a perfect analogy for life? How often do we focus on the wrong thing and the wonder why the results aren't what we hoped for?
Frustrated with something in your life? Maybe it's time to change your focus. Are you obsessing on a problem when you really need to turn your attention away from it? I speak from experience. I get stuck on thinks pretty easily. It's hard for me to let go. Like when I was little and got a cut---I could just never let it scab over without picking the scab off before the skin beneath it was healed. That's because I was focused on what was directly in front of me instead of what was below the surface. It's taken me years to learn to 'leave my scabs alone.'
I know it's hard, but maybe you need to just leave things alone for awhile. Go for a walk. Do your nails. Read an entertaining book. Take a casserole next door to your elderly neighbor. Breathe. Stop worrying about your problem and just work on the background stuff for awhile. Trust. Believe that things are happening in unseen realms. Good things. God things.
One of my favorite verses in the Message Bible puts it this way...
“Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
25-28 “Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
29-32 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.