Bokeh

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

  1. Bob, the Ritts photo was not a conscious inspiration though I never underestimate the power of unconscious inspirations! I believe I'm very much influenced by all the art and photography I've looked at, whether I remember it vividly or at all or am thinking about it at any given time. That's a big part of my view that art and photography are shared, a kind of dialogue over the ages among artists, photographers, practitioners, and viewers, forming a sort of chain of connection among all of us who participate. Sorry, getting a bit afield from bokeh.

    One of the things I tend not to like about out of focus backgrounds (which certainly have their place and times and can be very effective in many instances) is when they seem to stifle what I often see as greater potential in keeping the background somewhat or completely in focus. There's often a lot of story in a background. And subjects interacting with as opposed to completely standing out from their surroundings can be rich and layered whereas, in many cases, a subject shot against bokeh and a strongly blurred background can seem much more one-dimensional to me. Of course, it depends on the particular photo and I'm not developing any sort of rule. It's more just something I've noticed in looking at a lot of photos. I find a lot of photos not realizing their full potential because of depth of field choices.
     
  2. If I am shooting a portrait and I want the subject to be well represented, then the background should enhance and not distract. Agreed and few will argue that one. ( Well OK some may, but we are visualizing the calm rational non hyperventilating ordinary folk we all know and understand) My objection - longstandingnow-is to the fetishization of something that is not new, has been around forever, and never applauded, and lacks a real universal definition. ( I don't need Google thanks) Timo wrote that he is now more interested in the background blur than anything else. Not I Timo. Bokeh is still not in my lexicon. Background blur is there. Though for years I needed hyperfocal setting to be sure I got my stereoscopic films clear from fore to aft. The eyes fuse the subect and the cyclopean center blurs the background. So I got it from physiology. Just as I got perspective, light and shade and the distance of haze and soft hues in the distance. The rest takes a book. Yipes maybe bokeh has invaded photo books by now...
     
  3. There is indeed, Fred, a lot of interest in the environment of a subject,especially in revealing the character of a person or object. That to me is holistic. Though we may not agree on holistic as applied to photos. That is why words fail me. A lot. Even when I can move them of the tip of my tongue lately. ( Is there a word for that, not destinesia, that applies to something else, like why did I come in this room now.._)
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  4. Gerry, I think we probably do agree on holistic as applied to photos. It's often how I think about photos.
     
  5. Fred, was just showing a lady friend a book of Ritts work as well as karsh and am designing a photo similar to the Fred shot. You are right, all those images reside somewhere in the back of our heads. Gerry, you have to be enjoying some of the only warm weather in the US. Had to wear long pants here in FL the last week or so. I guess I have had blur in my entire life, my vision is 20/1200 and without glasses or contacts, everything is a soft blur. Just checked my eye bokeh, soft. I have wondered if the first 7 years of my life with vision uncorrected gave me an attachment to it and it is still what I see if I take off the glasses. I agree on the word bokeh. I guess it is easier to say than quality of out of focus areas particularly highlights. It's like "defocus control" on a 135 2.0 DC. Not and accurate description and bokeh? I don't speak japanese but I understand it translates as blur. So why don't we just say blur??? Same reason as saying full cut cto, it sounds cool and only those knowing the jargon share it. I am looking down a 200 yd pond in my back yard and with a portrait at say 11 feet,1.4 to 2.8 turns it into a gorgeous wash better than a painted background especially when the clouds add pink reflections on the water and the white arched bridge at the end is oof. I have been putting off hand painting a canvas background because I find so many in nature that are stunning when so rendered. I liked a quote I just heard from Joe McNally's studio manager who when asked where his studio is located says, the world is his studio. Happy New Year to all.
     
  6. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I've been in film photography since 1974. Not once have I ever given any consideration to what kind of bokeh there is in any of my photos. And I never will.
     
    tholte likes this.
  7. BB. Who cares if icycles form, I got Merlot to keep me warm. It feels chilly at 800 feet here. And there is snow on Mauna Kea where the big scopes are sitting. Bokeh talk is just kind of amusing. And I am indulgently amused. It goes with other great enigmas like the latest redefinition of DOF as thin sharp slivers. I recall when I once borrowed via Canon Professional Services their lovely and pricey FD 85mm 1.2 lens ( I thought 8 bills was outrageous silly mew). Too narrow a slice for me to focus on. Now, with AF and Intelligent Auto any camera can do almost anything. My latest arrived Lumix SZ100 , a real cutey I can wear on a belt has 24 scenes it knows more than I to handle. Cute dessert. Romantic sunset. Other sunsets galore and three types of night shots. ( no setting for backpacks sorry or kittens, no I think there is!) So, sportsfans, anyone can be an arteeste with such a computer with a Leica lens no less. Nu? Don't answer. The camera really is the thing. But don't give that away, I still like my only craft--where is my Garbo and my Dietrich or AVA or my Marillyn. Charlize will do... and my complete Dremel tool kit sits there forever. Someday I gonna need it... Happy Trails. Do keep your sunnyside up, all. I have made 81 and still got all the marbles and that aint bad.. And tipple all you like, no work tommorrow. Except I got to declutter a wee bit those 30 canvas bags. So many bags I forgot about. Ah well, my problem.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  8. That's great. Enjoy! Would love to see it when it's done.

    Maybe you can post it to Gerry's other thread and we can all critique it when it's done. LOL. :)

    Just kidding about the critiques, of course, but I would love to see it so let me know if you post it to PN or have a link to it.
     
  9. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    That's a bit sad.
    Why ignore a part of your image?

    This seems like willy waving to me. 'Oh, look! I'm a serious photographer! I don't do bokeh!'
    (I'm poking fun at the way the thread has gone, not you, Vincent)

    I too have been taking pics for the last 40 odd years. I have been paying attention to my backgrounds since I started,
    though probably only since the early 90's have I thought about bokeh. It's part of an image. Embrace it.
     
    Nick D. and Norma Desmond like this.
  10. LOL. Willy waving is best shot with just the right amount of motion blur! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
    Wouter Willemse and kendunton like this.
  11. I once borrowed via Canon Professional Services their lovely and pricey FD 85mm 1.2 lens ( I thought 8 bills was outrageous silly mew). Too narrow a slice for me to focus on. --Gerry Siegel
    I remember going through my f/1.2 phase. I even bought the old Canon rangefinder back in 2008 or so so that I could use the 50mm f/0.95 on it. (It was not really any good until stopped down to about f/2). As for the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2, I just got tired of carrying it around (huge chunk of glass!), and I really could not see that it was any better at other apertures than the 1.8.

    As for DOF itself, I do remember reading instructions about opening the aperture to get a shallow DOF way back around 1977. Seemed pretty cool then; still does when that is what I want. It's amazing how little I think about background blur. Maybe I should start thinking about it more, but I have chosen not to.

    Lannie
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018
  12. To fix your problem don't read posts from forums like this. You're influenced by others who are into the bokeh in recent years. Back in the old days film speed was slow and people use large aperture lenses wide open trying to do low light photography hand held. Doing so making their pictures having very narrow DOF and they don't like that but accept that because the film speed was slow. Now that some camera doesn't want to shoot at ISO slower than 200. Those who are into low light (that including me) can shoot low light hand held at f/8 so we need no fast lenses. But there are people who thought there must be a use for those fast lenses .... so there it begins.
     
  13. kendunton

    kendunton Edinburgh

    I tended to use Kodachrome 25 and 64, and later, Ektachrome 64 so faster lenses were preferable (in the 70's and 80's)
     
  14. So true, only idiots driving Ferrari, because Honda Civic can perfectly take you to speed limit, when you go to buy groseries.
     
  15. I didn't pay much attention to bokeh, or background blur as it was better known, until going mirrorless. I used a Leica M2 for many years, and with focusing so problematic, I seldom opened wider than f/5.6. I was less cautious using SLRs and DSLRs, except the lenses were not all that great when wide open. Sure, you could blur the background, but getting something, anything sharp was elusive.

    Now lenses are much better (and expensive) wide open, and focusing is a breeze, either auto or manual at 5x-12x magnification. I particularly like longer lenses, and an 85/1.8 is a good choice for many applications.

    Sony A7Rii + Zeiss Basis 85/1.8 at f/1.8
    _DSC3474.jpg
     
    Nick D. likes this.
  16. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    No offense taken.

    I just looked through some 600+ Kodachrome 64 slides I shot over the past 10 years. Just one had objectionable bokeh. IMO, that speaks volumes about my Nikkor lenses.

    Not bad for not trying LOL.
     
    kendunton likes this.
  17. That's why you didn't care about it, try use "modern" slow zoom lenses with VR activated all the time, and you will notice messy backgrounds in some pictures.
     
  18. BeBu, shooting after dark or not, if I have a busy or distracting background and want to emphasize or isolate my subject I don't shoot at f/8 just because i can, I open up. Actually, when I shot all my gels over a range of f/4 to f/16 for a chromazome chart enabling me to instantly create a shade from my gels, I realized, I had sensor dust for the first time in a while because at 1.4-3.2 if is just part of the blur (english for bokeh). I don't shoot at the wide end only because I have to, I shoot there to match the rest of the image. Same as metering my background to have it 1 stop darker. It's not a fad, it's done to make the viewers eye be driven to the subject. Of course unless I am shooting a bright background and my subject is darker then I want the bg brighter. It's all part of maximizing the controls we have on our cameras and lighting. It's why I sometimes find myself struggling to get my subject far enough from the bg so I can control them independently, or in gelling, keeping spill of the bg. Heard a neat description how shutter speed allows independent bg control. Once the subject is lit, adjusting shutter speed is like venetian blinds making the bg lighter or darker. As a location shooter, it isn't unusual for me to add lights to the bg for accents, or the cliched shooting in tungsten white balance making the outdoors have a blue night effect and knocking down ambient to shoot day as night then cto gel my lights to get proper wb of subject. It's all just part of crafting the image.
     
  19. Are there any cure for this,

    Yes: growing up. Bokeh is the fetish of the decade - preceding dynamic range, number of pixels, and mirrorless cameras. Drink a glass of cold water, take a deep breath, clear your mind, then carry on and think no more about it.
     
    tholte likes this.
  20. What's interesting to me is thinking that because something like bokeh has, indeed, become fetishized, the reaction should be to completely ignore it. That reaction seems to me as much a kind of fetish as the original one. Why not just not fetishize it and instead attend to it as it's warranted to get out of a photo the result desired? Just think, there may be a whole lot of healthy ground between fetishizing background blur on the one hand and ignoring it on the other, for instance understanding it and working well with it!
     

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