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Commentary

Blurry pictures tell a story

Last week, Apple chief Tim Cook came under attack from Internet trolls when he posted a blurry photo of Denver Broncos' Super Bowl victory celebrations on Twitter.

A deluge of "shot with iPhone" mentions and jokes followed. It proved too much even for Mr Cook, and he later deleted that picture.

I was appalled - but not by the trolling of Mr Cook. Instead, it was the lack of tolerance of the blurry photo that ticked me off.

My love for photography started when I was 14. It was a passion that led me to become a photojournalist. I was brought up on the works of photojournalism legends like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

The sheer visual force of Capa's series of blurry photos of Allied forces' D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944 still makes me marvel. But post a blurry shot on social media these days and you risk becoming fodder for criticism.

I think the current intolerance of blurry pictures might be due to the constant marketing bombardment by smartphone and camera makers extolling their cameras' ability to capture sharp images all the time.

No, I am not likening Mr Cook's snapshot to Capa's masterpiece. What I am comparing is the sense of occasion that came through because of the shaky and blurry nature of the shots. Capa's images conveyed the sense of chaos at the moment the photos were taken. Mr Cook's snapshot conveyed, well, his euphoria that followed the victory of his beloved Broncos.

I think the current intolerance of blurry pictures might be due to the constant marketing bombardment by smartphone and camera makers extolling their cameras' ability to capture sharp images all the time.

It has reached a point where anything blurry is unacceptable to the all-knowing netizens. But do they really know anything?

In 2006, Flickr user Andre Rabelo submitted a photo to an online group DeleteMe! where members vote on photos to remove. That photo was criticised for being blurry, contrived and grainy.

Those netizens' lack of knowledge is shocking as the submitted photo is actually the very famous photo "Hyeres, France, 1932", shot by my idol and the "father of modern photojournalism", Henri Cartier-Besson. That "lousy" photo was sold at a Christie's auction in 2008 for a cool US$265,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Blurry pictures tell a story Commentary'. Print Edition | Subscribe