“M” Switch

Ok, let’s be honest, how many of you use manual focus nowadays? I am using it, but not in a “traditional” way.

About 16 years ago I had Old Russian Zenith PM4725 camera and the only focus setting was Manual Focus (MF) of course. I borrowed a book on photography, read it on one summer afternoon and went out on shooting. During those days only film was available, and 36 shots max in one roll, so I had to practice setting the focus quite long before I decided to press the shutter button. I remember I was very surprised how well some of the shots came out after developing the film. I will try to find these shots, scan them and upload here, so we all could have a good laugh.

Believe it or not (that goes to younger photo-enthusiast) it had only manual focus so capturing the action was quite a problem for me, not talking about evening or night shots. After 2 months or so I put the camera in my closet and forgot about it. I really liked experimenting with focus and generally photography was really fun, it was a great way of spending time. I have no idea why I neglected it but I don’t regret it, I am fully satisfied with my life as it is and my photography as it develops nowadays. Ok, coming back to MF – two or three months after starting my 365 Days Project I started to experiment more with MF, mainly because I was inspired by two talented photographers:

Alexander Mueller ( you can follow him HERE )


Mister Blur ( you can follow him HERE )

Those guys are talented and be sure to check out their work! Not only blurry stuff.

Why everything should be so obvious? I don’t like obviousness in general. I like in-betweens. I like variety. Manual Focus in my Fuji X100t when discovered became my close friend during my so called “photo walks” ( so called, because sometimes they are more like “photo stands” ;-). For some of course blurry photo is crap. For some it’s art. For me it is a great way to achieve a kind of mood that I really like to show in my shots – sense of mystery. Below you will find an example. It was my Day 201/365. I was going to shoot in the street, however I noticed someone entering the church, I decided to check this location, and bam! I noticed this afternoon light flowing beautifully through little squares on the huge doors. After shooting something like (terrible shot of course):

I changed my setting to MF and setting close focus distance (here you will have to practice, to gain the result you really want, so the amount of blur that is acceptable for your taste). The problem was that I stood there, and stood and no one was coming. Here I must share a piece of advice with you – in that kind of situations when you are in the right location and you are waiting for more or less perfect ‘human element’ to appear – just wait, wait or you will regret you didn’t wait. In the beginning of my photo journey I left locations too early, I was too impatient (that is how I am in my everyday life). So I needed to learn to be more patient. Ok, so coming back to my shot – finally a right person appeared and I pressed the shutter button (of course in series mode) and already knew that I captured it the way I wanted to. For my taste the amount of blur is just right and photo has this “mystery” feel that I really like.

The only problem was color or monochrome. So here’s the color version:

Finally I went with black and white version of this shot. What do you think, did I make the right choice?

‘Da Vinci Code’ (that’s how I entitled this shot) was not my first “blurry” attempt. Few weeks before that I had shot ‘City Lights’ :

So let’s see how this shot would look like a “normal” way:

For me experimenting with focus/blur is not crap. It is just another way of expressing yourself through photography. It is not my “everyday technique” but I like to use it from time to time. What are your thoughts on this blurry stuff? Do you love it or hate it ?

Originally posted here

"My name is Marcin Baran, I was born in 1983 and I live in Poland. I am not a professional photographer. I specialise mainly in urban / street / human element photography. I started to shoot on everyday basis in August 2015 when I started my 365 Days Project. I've always liked taking photos and when I discovered Eric Kim, Marius Vieth and many others I knew that I had to try it for myself. My project ended up after 245 days but still I think it was a best decission I made - it helped me to discover my passion. 99% of my photos were shot in the same city - Gliwice. It's my hometown and I believe that I don’t need London, New York or Tokyo to do urban/street photography, I am satisfied with whatever place I am in. I strongly believe that amazing photo opportunities can be found anywhere."


  1. Hi Marcin , although most of my street photography is b&w I really like the colour version of the door. It just adds something. The bridge is great too but the in focus shot is so good its a shame to mess with that one …. my opinion 🙂 you are right though , it does not matter where you live , there are great shots to be had. I just got back from a visit to my Polish wifes home town of Bełchatów . Really small town but still photographs to be made!

  2. It’s interesting, I think the colour & B+W versions of the door shot have a very different feel. In colour, the light is very evocative of a late summer sunset and your attention is drawn to what’s through the door much more than in the B&W, in which your eye is drawn very strongly to the figure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 96 MB.
You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.