Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A rant on Bokeh

smooth escape

First of all what is this bokeh stuff I always talk about? It's a Japanese term that refers to the out of focus parts of the image.

Present Tense: JoAnn Verburg
At the Moma in New York, I was taken aback by the simple beauty of this image, it inspired me to start taking pictures...


A lot of times in when I'm in my car waiting on a red light, I like to ask myself, "Why is photography so important to me?" And most of the times I come up with an answer similar to this: Photography is preserving a  moment for later inspection. A second chance at re-living a highlight of beauty, a peek of emotion. It's not only a method for me to show others how I perceive the world, but also a way for me to see it again as well. To finally see everything, the "complete picture" if you will... is a treat.


The camera works uncannily like our eyes, but unlike film our minds usually only take in what's in focus. In darker areas our pupils widen and so do apertures. Put your hand close to your face and focus your eyes on it, and try to examine everything behind it... it feels weird right? The thing is... that out of focusness is beautiful, just awkward to look at normally, and a photo gives us a relaxed way of looking at it.


Bokeh adds to the composition of an image. One major goal of photography is to entertain the eyes... to make them search for the subject. So why not give the eyes something pleasant to look at while they're dancing around? Even when my subject is smack dab in the middle, the bokeh draws attention elsewhere, it makes the image more interesting, not so obvious(I hate being obvious). I'm not Ansel Adams... I don't live in a beautiful national forest where everything is beautiful and everything needs to be in focus. Blast that boring background with a low F stop and make it something special.


Bokeh gives a picture depth, a 3rd dimension to a physically flat canvas. It's character derived directly from our gear... it makes me crave zeiss and leica glass. (even though all of these were taken with a lowly canon 50mm f/1.4)

i try to keep awake

Bokeh allows for creativity, it can actually be the subject of the image.

tell me...

And for some of us... the more pictures we take the more we want to see it. Like addicts... Seeing in real life is boring without it.


If you're wondering how to achieve this effect, take a look at my basic tutorial for it

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