Bokeh

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Timo Hartikainen, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. I have been photographing since early 1990. For the first 25 years or so, I didn't pay much attention to the smoothness of backgrounds or the shape of highlights in the background. Nowadays it's a little bit different story, sometimes I think I'm more interested in the backgrounds than the subject. Are there any cure for this, than buying fast prime lenses with circular aperture blades or trying to find old m42 lenses, which might make an unique bokeh?
     
  2. A cure for Bokeh or the cost of fast lenses, lol. There are a few inexpensive fast lenses out there.

    We find things in photography that interest us and that can evolve and dynamically change as we grow in our skills and interest in improving and trying something new. You can play around in post editing a bit too, but when you get a really good fast lens and learn when to use it, with the right conditions and light, some of the images it produces can be magical. It's a great tool added to your bag of tools.

    I don't know if there is a cure, just the price barrier, and willpower.
    You could break down and find one or two really good lenses, used and just get it out of your system.

    Or maybe you could start EPGA (Expensive Photo Gear Anonymous)

    Hi, my name is Mark, and I have a number of fast lenses, I can't help it, I am hooked.

    Group says, "Hello Mark."
     
  3. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    Try landscape photography :)

    Everything in focus - problem solved!

    Have you tried the Helios 44-2?
     
    Landrum Kelly likes this.
  4. Cheapest cure I know off: Lensbaby Spark. It's cheap, and great at getting very little in focus.
    Still, I have that lensbaby and a tendency to find f/2.8 slow. :)
     
  5. No I haven't tried, but those seem to create nice looking bokeh and they are cheap, so I guess I should buy one. My Pancolar 50mm f1.8 produces almost similiar swirly bokeh. I really like those old lenses; new lenses sometimes produce almost too smooth and round bokeh bubbles.
     
  6. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    Distance to the background is key to the effect with the Helios. It's just a case of experimenting.
     
  7. Bokeh is the last of my worries. If the quality of the out of focus background (or foreground) makes or breaks the image, perhaps the image wasn't strong enough to begin with.
     
  8. I am emphatically not an adherent of the Bokian Heresy, but you can get nice blur from lenses like the 105 f2.5 Nikkor, or the 60mm Fujinon macro for X-series, or the non-VR/IS Tamron 17-50mm. Also the Nikkor 180 f2.8 AI(s) and the Canon 50 f1.4 FD. The big advantage of the "full-frame" (giggle) lenses in this (very incomplete) list is that you can shoot film with them, and fake the EXIF so people think you spent thousands on Zeiss "glass".

    BTW, if we stopped calling it "bokey" and used "nice blur" and "really nice blur", all the nonsense would cease.
     
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  9. I like 'em yellow . . . no . . . wait . . . :eek:

    22-kevin-ed-roses-w.jpg

    Merry Christmas, y'all.
     
  10. Buy a mirror lens... you'll never think about bokeh ever again. ;)
     
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  11. Long before the term bokeh was assigned to "out-of-focus blur" by Johnston (LINK) and Merklinger (LINK2) in the middle 1990s, there were discussions of how the shallow depth of field of some lenses would blur out distracting backgrounds.

    On the other hand, sometimes a pole or streetlight growing out of the head of the subject can be amusing. I recall a presidential portrait, I think maybe of Obama, with a flag pole or some such, but cannot retrieve it right now.

    But, some shallow focus lenses, like 500mm mirror lenses, may overdo the shallow depth of field trait, not to mention the circular torus blurs. (may be appropriate for police portraits) o_O
    Campus-Lake-Sigma-600.jpg
    Sigma 600mm mirror lens bokeh
     
  12. I thought bokeh was named for "bokeh harum" and their song whiter shade of pale. Bad bokeh makes me seasick. It's why on my medium format I shoot f/45 , no bokeh with everything in focus. That's forty-five, not four point five. The background is none the less in the frame and the photographer is responsible for it. If he likes harsh, 8 pointed octogonal out of focus shapes, it may be appropriate for the image. Since I am usually looking for softness throughout the image, no sharp edges in the eye catch light like a rectangle or square soft box and same for the oof in the background. And do folks "feel" good bokeh just can't put their finger on why? That is the response I get to the images taken with a Nikon 135 2.0 dc with bokeh ring matching the aperture setting. You can picked up a used copy for about 800. If you are shooting crop, you now have a 2.0 200mm and have been really liking used at that distance. Once I get a FF d850 may shoot it at that distance and crop or shoot it in crop mode. I don't find that bokeh usually makes or breaks an image, it takes it to another level. Google photos for nikon 135 2.0 dc. If you can't tell the difference, you don't need it.
     
  13. Creamy bokeh sounds like the pasta of the day. We have pork cutlet today. Would you like that with creamy bokeh. Or a side of swirly bokeh. Bokeh is like a Chinese vegetable, sounds like bok choi. I consider this a cooked up fancy that misses the whole point of the whole image. Yes I am responsible for everything in the frame, but not to the exclusion of a main subject. All else are complimentary side dishes. Bokeh, phooey. Though I do have a mint Rokkor 58mm 1.2 which will be a good investment for my offspring some day. I have actually used that heavy old lens on my micro four thirds cameras. At full aperture it delivers, but not to my needs, and I may sell it one day. Or not.. Old lenses even with aperture blades that are not round holes per se do work well if wide open and you are after blur and its permutations. I am not gifted in shooting blur, thank you and sorry if this is unresponsive to your post, sire. I like your nature shots btw..... My personal view:The bokeh bandits have nothing to teach us. There I said it and I will not take it back, senor.
     
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  14. I had someone accuse me of "busy bokeh". What's that? He was digging around in the background of my image at 100-percent! What's that about? There was no comment about the subject of the image. I think that some "bokeh queens" have gotten things backwards.
     
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  15. Jerry, although the subject is the star player, it helps the image if everything in the image supports the mood, tone, feel of it. Bokeh is just one of those elements. It does not have to be at the exclusion of the subject in any way. I'm not sure how it would. It isn't the most important element but I want it appropriate to the image. Like I said I consider the catch light as well. Sure a rectangular soft box can look like a window and some folks even apply black tape to look like frames within the window, Some prefer it giving motivation to the catch light, explaining it. I also don't want ninety degree corners in the catch light nor 8 points in the bokeh or a harsh feel. It's why I never understood the rectangular opening that was created by 4 florescent banks and the strange rectangular line around the eye for one famous headshot guy. That's just critical to me to nail an image. Some folks don't care. Nothing wrong with that. No rules, just guidelines. But, I want everything in the frame to support the concept of the shot and if it is softness, harsh bokeh does not. Sure, most folks won't notice, but I do. Critical to the shot? not as much as as expression, lighting, pose, environment, but, none the less an element. It is why Ansel said we are lucky if we produce 12 outstanding images a year. I suggest anyone who doesn't think bokeh is important google 135 dc photos and look at them. Then take a look shots from a lens with harsh bokeh. I don't have to go to 100% to see the difference. It has nothing to do with being a king or queen, it has to do with maximizing image quality. Sorry, but to me, harsh bokeh is not appropriate for a shot calling for soft lighting, a gentle mood any more than would a high contrast ratio on a baby. It has nothing to do with snobbery as is often implied, and certainly goes more to the artistic intent of the image than the usual pixel peeping complaints often founded on some numerical criteria that folks wring their hands over. When an out of focus background forms a large part of the image, is it less important than some sensor dust remaining in the image? Most folks won't accept a few dust specks so why accept a third of the image out of step with the concept of the shot? I heard McNally tell a story about him relating to an art director the joke of how many photographers did it take to change a light bulb. Like we all probably know, the joke is 100, 1 to change the bulb and 99 to tell him how they would do it. This is how I would do it. But I like the art directors response. He asked how many art directors it took to replace a light bulb. None, we are art directors, we don't have to replace light bulbs.
     
  16. I wasn't looking at 100 or 300 percent, I just was looking at picture as whole.
     
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  17. Just was browsing through my books of well recognized masters of photography, and can't find any picks with those "swirly" backgrounds. Capa's D-day has motion blur, but it is whole image, not just background.
    JDM posted perfect example, whatever subject you put against such background, it( background) will deteriorate image as whole.
     
  18. David, most of the work I've seen from you is so good that it's hard to imagine bokeh that would be so distracting coming from you. Nevertheless, I have seen (in others' photos) what I would consider to be busy bokeh, where the background blur, in combination with swirls and highlights, distracts from the main subject. If that were the case, in a quick comment I could see myself referring to the bokeh without necessarily referring to the subject. That wouldn't mean I didn't look at or care about the subject. Just that the focus and blur overwhelmed the photo enough that I thought it worth mentioning to the photographer.
     
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  19. +1 I very much agree. For me, photos are more holistic than a matter of subject and predicate.
    I think this is important and is probably worthy of a discussion in itself. Not that I'm comparing any of us to this master, but I'm sure Michelangelo spent painful hours on every minute detail of his sculpture, much of which wouldn't be consciously noticed by viewers of his work. He did it because that's what he was about and it was important enough to him. Most viewers won't notice every nuance of every one of Van Gogh's brushstrokes, but they're there because he wanted and needed them to be. While viewers may not consciously notice certain things and could easily live with a few less hours' time being put into finished photos and artwork, I think all those details photographers and artists may fuss over do wind up having an impact, whether any viewer consciously realizes it or not. It all goes into the fullness of the experience of the photo. My refining certain textures here and there or my getting a background blur just the way I want it or my nuancing color gradations for hours in post processing may seem like just a fussing over detail, but I do think those things affect viewers in all kinds of ways that aren't overt. It's at least part of why people master both their art and craft. Sometimes, it's the most subtle actions taken that have the most profound, even if unnoticed, effects.
     
  20. Fred, you are absolutely right about Michelangelo. He spent many hours studying the anatomy of cadavers to be able to have a deeper understanding of the human form for his sculpture. They look alive. Mine work is inspired and given to specific people who I educate on what is in their image. Much of it they wouldn't have understood without the explanation. In one of your shots you posted showing how you display photos, I notice one with a guy in coveralls or jeans shirtless that could have been inspired by Herb Ritts' "Fred with Tires." I had meant to ask if that was the inspiration and if it was, many folks would miss that connection to a fantastic portraitist and photographer of the human form and an iconic image. Most folks miss my profile photo being an homage to Karsh and Hemingway, among my favorite photographers and writers inspired by the photo on Hem's wall in his Key West home. Photographers have criticized the kickers as being to hot, to bright. Right, rule violated til I explain they represent Hem's white beard and Karsh's kickers on them. Exactly as you describe, Fred, carefully fine tuned in post. Most folks have seen Karsh's photo of Churchill with the lit wood paneled wall behind him. In the new Churchill movie they actually have a tobacco warning at the end because, true to life Churchill always had a cigar in his hand or mouth. Notice in the photo how Churchill's left hand is somewhat ackwardly posed on his left hip and there is no cigar in the photo. Because to get the belligerent expression, Karsh grabbed the cigar and when Churchill reacted with a belligerent look, click. He captured the guy who just kicked Hitler's ass in the air battle of Britain. Most folks have seen that image but never wondered where the cigar is. If they read this, from now on, they will always see it.
     

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