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My bokeh rant

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by Luke, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Here's my latest post to my flickr account....... tell me how you feel. I realize I sound like a lunatic, but it bugs me.


    oof raindrops on evergreens by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    You may also call them specular highlights (a fancy term for a reflection of the light source). But please whatever you do, DO NOT call those white balls BOKEH.

    It's a pet peeve of mine. Bokeh is a term that refers to the quality (or qualities) of the out of of focus areas. Not the fact that something IS out of focus. Don't worry, I'm not picking on you. It seems like everyone is misusing the term. Even reviewers.....people who are paid to write about cameras. One well known camera reviewing deuchebag was recently writing about a $2,800 camera and actually said that the camera had a fast lens and had plenty of Bokeh. He didn't say whether he liked it or not (or describe if it was creamy or busy). He just said it had plenty! Well, I hate to break it to him, but any camera with the same sized sensor and a certain focal length and aperture will have the same DOF. But their bokeh will be different (there won't be more or less of it, just the quality of it will be different......it's a quality, not a quantity).

    But I love shallow DOF compositions that yield these kind of results. It's just that there is nothing wrong with learning the right terminology. It's my particular curse. I may just end up shooting everything at f22 to avoid this.

    Rant over.
     
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  2. krugorg

    krugorg SC All-Pro

    Sep 26, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Kyle Krug
    Great idea, Luke, we needed a Bokeh-liciousness thread around here!

    Following is my bokeh contribution. I was actually had too much bokeh in this one... think one of her fingers was also bokehed slightly. Also, so much bokeh in the background that I can make out what is back there. I wish this camera had fewer bokehs sometimes.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/krugorg/8088991124/" title="fleeting by Kyle Krug, on Flickr">"800" height="800" alt="fleeting"></a>

    Look forward to seeing everyone's maximum bokeh factor images!
     
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  3. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Take a deep breath Luke. Feel the force, don't let the Dark Side take over!

    I know what you mean. Sadly the term like many terms with precise meaning has become less meaningful due to popular usage.

    Bokelicious T-Shirts are proof enough, aren't they?
     
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  4. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Excellent Luke.
    I'm so glad it's not just me ...
     
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  5. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    To be honest I don't really care how people use it. Bokeh is just a bastardized (or phoneticized) spelling of the japanese word for blurriness - so as far as I'm concerned, saying 'lots of bokeh' when you mean shallow DOF makes perfect sense. Boke-aji apparently does mean the quality of blurriness.
     
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  6. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Well people are forever mistaking quantity for quality :wink:
     
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  7. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    kyle what's the BxO rating for that camera?
     
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  8. KianO

    KianO SC Top Veteran

    568
    Jun 27, 2012
    Geneva
    LOL - bokeh is an abused thing that I do often ;) ... On my way to balance it more effectively!
     
  9. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    The part of the photo which is in focus is "pinto". The rest is "boke" (later changed to "bokeh" to help with English pronunciation). Bokeh simply means out-of-focus blur. The term comes from the Japanese word "boke" (暈け or ボケ), meaning "blur" or "haze" (also mental haze or senility), or boke-aji (ボケ味), meaning "blur quality".

    A common adaptation of the term is that bokeh itself means "quality of blur".
    When someone says, "X lens gets more bokeh than Y lens", there is frequently a reply that "bokeh refers to the quality of blur, not how blurry it is". That isn't quite right, but it gets to the point that when people discuss bokeh, they are usually interested in the quality (characteristics) of the blur rather than how blurry it is.

    Of course, English is an evolving language, so the more people use the word "bokeh" to mean "quality of blur", the more it will come to mean that. Then "quality of bokeh" will mean "quality of quality of blur" :smile:.
     
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  10. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I think my misunderstanding has lead me to a personal case of boke (mental haze). Nothing worse than going on a rant only to find out that you are in fact, a bit off the mark. But in my defense, I was distracted by the bokeh balls:wink:

    And I actually like the bokehlicious shirts. I think they are kind of tongue-in-cheek. But maybe that is a sign of why I am at war with myself. Maybe I should just embrace the bokeh, but it's so blurry I can't find where to hug it.
     
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  11. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I think you should hold on tight to any misconceptions and propagate them at all and any opportunities. I certainly shall.
     
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  12. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    Luke, you lost me, the point you're trying to make is a bit too bokeh for me!
     
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  13. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I wish I had the exact quote, but I once saw someone say something like this. She had bought her Canon because she heard it was good at high ISO, so she set the ISO at 3200 (apparently 6400 can be noisy or something like that...I don't know why the volume matters, but.....). Then she went out and bought a "nifty fifty" (God, I hate that phrase) because she liked the bokeh balls that she sees all the time. She was told that to get those bokeh balls, she need to set the aperture at f1.4. She returned the camera a couple days later because all her shots were overexposed except for the night shots. And while she loved them, she didn't want a night-only camera.
     
  14. KianO

    KianO SC Top Veteran

    568
    Jun 27, 2012
    Geneva
    She probably should put an nd filter for Day shooting at F1.4.
     
  15. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Yeah, but lots of people do it so it must be a good idea.
     
  16. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
    Shoot what you like Luke and ignore the terminology or go ahead and embrace it, it's all the same anyway. The x-mas ornaments [renamed them for you] in the background of your image are lovely, magical. Your shot would be less appealing if that light wasn't there [say a creamy background] and completely unremarkable if the background was fully in focus. In macro where your visual stage becomes really small, throwing part of the image out of focus helps to create depth to a flat field and dimension to whatever you've captured that close. Sometimes that narrow dof begins with the subject of the photo and extends outwards and sometimes it is used to isolate the subject-- even in documentation photos you want to remove your rare species of plant from the surrounding foliage. Whether you are using it as framing/background or as a method of storytelling, it is a valuable tool and you shouldn't just abandon it. Amin shared the definition [thank you!] which many people like myself already knew but there are all levels of people online sharing photos and some don't research the terms beyond what they've been told, it's all bokeh to them. If you look at any of the bokeh related groups on flicker, however, you will see they do have the gist of it.. and you'll probably also discover a lot of photos that you really like if you are drawn to this technique. Let the force be with you Luke.. use the boke, tastefully without abusing it. Just do NOT say 'bouquet' that makes me rant!

    Also there is a difference between specular highlights [1] and bokeh [2] although specular highlights can [and is in your particular photo] be part of your bokeh. The shape of these highlights when out of focus is one of the ways a lens is graded as far as having an attractive bokeh. Round is seen as most attractive and highlights that are shaped according to the blade pattern in the lens as less, with creamier, sans these out of focus highlights, better than a blur with harder edges. You might already know this but I thought I would share for whoever may not.
     
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  17. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I have nothing of value to say, so here's some more bokeh.

    8102930012_c27d2c37b2_c.
    DSCF7481 by gordopuggy, on Flickr
     
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  18. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    Thanks Kristen. I've always embraced it. I just wish people understood it all a little better. But you're right that it doesn't matter whether one understands it or not. Here's some autumnal swirly bokeh for fans of quirky blur......

    Autumn is Your Last Chance by Lukinosity, on Flickr
     
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  19. Isoterica

    Isoterica SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 6, 2011
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  20. adanac

    adanac SC Veteran

    386
    Sep 30, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    Bokeh wasn't a term I remember using in the 1970's when I took up photography as a hobby. Even in the 1980's when I did some product and model photography for a mail order catalogue I don't recall using it, although surely some were. That all changed in the 90's but I don't remember when but I suspect the timing of the dawning popularity of the word had everything to do with the rising of the internet as a commonly used tool for gaining knowledge.

    I've always understood the term to refer to the out of focus areas; you need an adjective to make it useful for describing what you see.

    "Nice bokeh", an adjective and a noun, works fine. "Angry bokeh", "Busy bokeh", "Distracting bokeh", "Restless bokeh" all work for me. Sadly one of my lenses has a bit of angry bokeh going on depending on subject and background distance. I much prefer calm and creamy bokehlicious bokeh!
     
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