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The Story Behind That Picture:
"My photo is not sharp enough"

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Encouragement to photographers who are concerned about sharpness


By: Thorsten Overgaard. September 19, 2023.


Today I offer encouragement to you who may be worried about if your photos are sharp enough. In the same breath, unfortunately, I may discourage you who are trying really hard to nail it in each photo.

(Why don't you come to my London Workshop and we will talk about it. I can usually "cure" any concern about focusing even a f/0.95 lens. In a matter of hours, I promise, you will be able to hit focus, and at the same time, not really worry if you do).

Point today is the famous album cover of THE CLASH: LONDON CALLING which the photographer, Pennie Smith (born 1949) wouldn't let them use – because it wasn't sharp enough.




However, Ray Lowry who designed the cover, convinced her that that the lack of focus was in this case "made it more authentic and spontaneous."

And there we go, one of the most famous album covers became a reality. Despite lack of focus. Millions of albums sold, and still millions of monthly listenings on online platforms.

I pesonally came across the album cover when I was 14 years old and had the habit of going to the listening bar at the local library. On the display of new releases I saw the cover and (I remember that I) was slightly offended by the agression. I was into rock like Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers (the library had the original cover where you could open the zipper; a feature that intriqued a teenager like me), and I would attend punk concerts every Tuesday at the local Jazzhouse with a handful of friends from school. I never managed to understand punk. It just didn't make sense why the audience would throw eggs at the musicians and how was that great? In any case, London Calling became a favorite from the first moment I listened to it. Finally punk that made sense! And it's been on my playlist ever since.


The Clash debut album was inspired by Elvis Presley's debut album

Another curious fact, for us who care; the design of The Clash's debut cover of 1979 was a copy of Elvis Presley's debut album inspired by the Elvis Presley album of 1956.


Ray Lowry design of London calling cover inspired by Elvis Presly debut cover


So iconic is the cover that it was published on stamps in 2010 ... and also Banksy offered his version of it:

Banksy's version of London Calling.
Banksy's version of London Calling.



More to come

Bon voyage with it all. Sign up for the newsletter to stay in the know. As always, feel free to email me with suggestions, questions and ideas. And hope to see you in a workshop one day soon.


Thorsten Overgaard



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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
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Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 Leica R8 / R9
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA Leica R4
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 Leica R3 electronic
Leica 35mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 Leicaflex SL / SLmot
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 FLE
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 Leica compact film cameras:
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.2 Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
7artisans 50mm f/1.1 Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4
Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm Elmar-M f/2.8 collapsible Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25 Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
7artisans 75mm f/1.25 Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4 Leica 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4
Leica 90mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.5 Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 Leica 180mm R lenses
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5 Leica 250mm Telyt-R f/4.0
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8 Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2 Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
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Leica Cine lenses from Leitz Cine Wetzlar
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The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus Thorsten von Overgaard YouTube Channel
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Which Computer for Photographers? Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers Lightroom Presets by Overgaard
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone Lightroom Brushes by Overgaard
Quality of Light Capture One Software
Lightmeters Capture One Survival Kit
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance) "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
White Balance & WhiBal "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Film in Digital Age "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
All You Need is Love "Composition in Photography" eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
X-Rite "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
The Origin of Photography The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
"Why do I Photograph?"
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Henri Cartier-Bresson Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner Martin Munkácsi
John Botte Jose Galhoz
Douglas Herr Milan Swolf
Vivian Maier Jan Grarup
Morten Albek
Byron Prukston Richard Avedon
The Story Behind That Picture: Learn with Thorsten Overgaard:
More than 250 articles by Thorsten Overgaard Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Thorsten Overgaard Workshop Schedule Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
Leica M240 Masterclass (video course)
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Jono Slack Leica TL2 Quick Start (video course)
Sean Reid Review (reviews) Street Photography Masterclass (video course)
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Camera Straps "Always Wear A Camera" Ventilated Shade E46 for old Leica 35mm/1.4 lens
The Von M Camera Bag Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
The Von L Camera Bag Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
The Von Mini Messenger Walkabout Camera Bag Ventilated Shade for 35mm Summicron-M ASPH
Desk Blotters 'Always Wear A Camera" Ventilated Shade for older 35mm/f2 lenses
Sterling Silver Necklace Ventilated Shade E39 for 50mm Summicron lenses
Software for Photography Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Signed Thorsten Overgaard Gallery Prints Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Computer Shade for MacBook Pro Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Video Masterclasses Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
Gallery Store Specials Ventilated Shade for Leica Q and Leica Q2

Above: THE CLASH: LONDON CALLING by Pennie Smith.

Thorsten Overgaard in Brussels by Robert Li.
Thorsten Overgaard in Brussels by Robert Li.

Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.

You can follow Thorsten Overgaard at his television channel

Feel free to email to for questions, advice and ideas.

"The Artist's Guide to the Galaxy" by Thorsten von Overgaard. How to make it as an artist.

Also visit:

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Books by Thorsten Overgaard
Street Photography Masterclass Video
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Leica 21mm Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4
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Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4
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Leica 40mm Summicron-C f/2.0
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