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Thread: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Tim,
    It is more about the character of that out of focus area in the image. Some renderings are smooth and soft, others may be more contrasty and harsh looking or holding angular edges. The design and characteristics of the lens has a lot to do with how it renders that out of focus area. For example, I love how my Zeiss 25/2.8 handles the in-focus areas when shooting on my M8, but I find the out of focus areas too contrasty, with too many angular edges and forms. The Noctilux, on the other hand, renders that out of focus area much more softly....almost too soft at times....and that creates a very different kind of separation between in focus subject and out of focus background. The less softened or smoothed background can at time be more distracting to the viewer, depending on the total composition.

    I do look at the backgrounds that will appear in things that I shoot, and I try to think about what they may look like in the final image. If very distracting, I then try to shoot more wide open, if possible, to soften that distraction, rather than call attention to it.

    LJ

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Thanks LJL, that was pretty much what I thought. Maybe I need another cup of coffee or another read through the whole thread, but I was beginning to think that folks were substituting bokeh for focus.

    On a more personal note, while I absolutely love the stuff, I'm sorry the word bokeh has become so popular. I think we may be stuck with it. I felt a real relief when prints made by ink jet printers began to be called just that, instead of the weirdly pretentious "giclee" prints.

    Please ignore any of this if you find it irritating, it's been hot and humid for a week and I'm lapsing into "old curmudgeon" mode.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Chris, perhaps you are confusing content with technique?......
    Marc - I'm pretty sure I'm not confused [though un-confused enough to know that a confused person would say that]. Many of the images I have seen in bokeh threads are indeed unconvincing amalgams of content and technique, often appearing that the photographer has 'switched off' and left it to their lens' wide-open effects to bail out their image. I really do want to see what photographers can do when 'switched on', in which case just about any technique can be used for great photography.

    As to the Notcilux comment ... why would anyone use a lens made for the dark in bright light (except for the novelty of doing so) when a Cron would work better?
    That particular novelty has worn very thin.

    ................ Chris

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    I'm not sure I completely understand the current use of the term bokeh.

    I thought it was a description of the nature of how a lens renders the oof areas in an image. More of a technical artifact than an artistic choice. If I were to imagine a decision-making process in my head about an approach to a specific shot, I wouldn't say "I want that whole area to be bokeh." Rather, I would say, I want that whole area to be out of focus (to whatever degree seems appropriate)."

    In-focus and out-of-focus are the only two states one can achieve through the settings of a camera/lens combo. And those states are present in every photograph ever taken, by amateurs and masters alike. How those two states are rendered are (for the most part) lens-specific. Hence all the discussion about specific lenses that do one or the other very well.

    Have I missed something?
    Yes, I think you are missing something ... the quality of the OOF areas. A pile of slithering damp worms in the background ... or something that looks like a shot of fuzzy bacteria on a microscope slide isn't all that desireable.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post
    Marc - I'm pretty sure I'm not confused [though un-confused enough to know that a confused person would say that]. Many of the images I have seen in bokeh threads are indeed unconvincing amalgams of content and technique, often appearing that the photographer has 'switched off' and left it to their lens' wide-open effects to bail out their image. I really do want to see what photographers can do when 'switched on', in which case just about any technique can be used for great photography.



    That particular novelty has worn very thin.

    ................ Chris
    Who's the arbitrator of "great" ... you?

    It's been eons since I've seen a Nocti shot of a noon beach scene. I guess the novelity HAS worn thin.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Thanks LJL, that was pretty much what I thought. Maybe I need another cup of coffee or another read through the whole thread, but I was beginning to think that folks were substituting bokeh for focus.

    On a more personal note, while I absolutely love the stuff, I'm sorry the word bokeh has become so popular. I think we may be stuck with it. I felt a real relief when prints made by ink jet printers began to be called just that, instead of the weirdly pretentious "giclee" prints.

    Please ignore any of this if you find it irritating, it's been hot and humid for a week and I'm lapsing into "old curmudgeon" mode.
    Again, I think "Bokeh" has become the term for the relative quality of OOF areas ... for lack of a better term. There is OOF wormy and OOF smoothy ... "Bokeh" ususally designates this ... as in ... "That Bokeh is awful", or "That Bokeh is sweet!"

    Why not come up with a term of your own?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    I think it is more than that. It is a first attempt at objectifying everything els that is not in focus in an image. It is a poor 1st try to understand IT, and the relationship to what is "looked at".

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Yes, I think you are missing something ... the quality of the OOF areas. A pile of slithering damp worms in the background ... or something that looks like a shot of fuzzy bacteria on a microscope slide isn't all that desireable.
    Actually, I do understand that. To quote from my first post: "...How those two states are rendered are (for the most part) lens-specific. Hence all the discussion about specific lenses that do one or the other very well. I probably could have been more clear.

    As for an alternative term, I'll have to think about that. But simply describing the out-of-focus areas as being pleasing or not pleasing seems pretty straightforward. Although, "slithering damp worms" does have its appeal.

  9. #59
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    The word 'Bokeh' has subtle meanings in Japanese. Back in the 1980's I asked my Japanese pen pal to research bokeh as the UK photo mags were just catching up on it.

    She went back to a letter printed in a Japanese magazine from the early 1970's from an Art studio in Tokyo bemoaning the fact that modern lenses are too precise and tend to have bad bokeh, they were having to revert to turn of the century doublets and triplets lenses on their full frame plate cameras to get what they termed as good rendition of the OOF parts of their Art images.

    She also added that the word 'bokeh' usually has the connotation of blurry thinking i.e. an idiot. It is also a chant used in Japanese school playgrounds where they point at some unfortunate individual and shout 'bokeh, bokeh, bokeh' at them so it has connotations of childishness too.

    She finished by saying that the consensus after a year or so was that the OOF parts should have no discernable shape and be as close as possible to a wet in wet watercolour. That's where the Japanese magazines left it, it wasn't till a decade or so later that the Western World magazines cottoned onto it and the discussion has raged since then.

    In the original letter the word bokeh wasn't used, probably for the above reasons, it was only people who replied to the original letter that used the term as a derogatory remark implying they were chasing the rainbow and only childish idiots do that.

    This explains why if you mention the word bokeh to a Japanese photographer He/She will just smile knowingly.

    Chris

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    self awareness came from the selective focus capacity of the eye.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Part of my picture is out of focus

  12. #62
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    On any "M" camera bokeh is guess work.All the fuss about which lens gives the best bokeh is,in my view,to ensure that those uncontrollable parts of the image do not distract from the subject.However if your using an SLR,bokeh becomes a definate controllable part of the image.With experience you can have a pretty good idea of how any out of focus areas will turn out with a rangefinder but not enough,in my opinion,to take any credit for it.
    This last week I deliberatly took a photo with my pre-asph 35 lux on my M6 to see if I could predict and use the bokeh,,a lens I bought new and so know pretty well,in reality all I can hope for is a pleasant background,as Ive already said,but its quite possible that my preoccupation with the bokeh in this photo will have ruined or at least lessened a good photo.Hve to buy developer but will show the result at a later time......Neil.
    Last edited by nei1; 30th August 2009 at 00:15.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    This is an interesting discussion: I posted a couple of pictures in the 4/3 forum yesterday that intrigued me because of this thing called Bokeh. The way I've resolved it in my head is as follows.
    Bokeh is the effect of lens design and construction on the rendition of out of focus elements of the image. As every lens is different it will present a different bokeh for the same subject under the same conditions. Hence we say that one lens has a different bokeh than another, and in general people will prefer one lens over another because of it's OOF rendition. Bokeh is bokeh, you either like it or you dont.
    But, a secondary, but important factor is "what is the nature of the image that is OOF?" What are the colors, how is the scene illuminated, what are the shapes etc. What you see in the final image is the interaction of the bokeh of the lens on the image. This is where the photographer has a certain degree of control to achieve the image they are looking for.
    You can see this in these two images where the OOF image is a wood-chip mulch under the flowers. It is the structure and shape of the OOF background that works with the bokeh of the lens to produce an interesting image.

    Keith

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Keith, I could say: "nice boke", What lens did it? But it wouldn't be right.

    So what lens was it?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by gero View Post
    self awareness came from the selective focus capacity of the eye.
    Confucio 500 AD.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Keith, the second one is a what would be termed as a "double line" bokeh.

    Many (if not all) Japanese lenses from the Takumar era are known for it.

    Have you tried similar shots under softer light?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Keith, the second one is a what would be termed as a "double line" bokeh.

    Many (if not all) Japanese lenses from the Takumar era are known for it.

    Have you tried similar shots under softer light?
    Hi Vivek

    These are the only images I've processed from this lens - a super-takumar 1.4/50. Please can you tell me more about the "double line" bokeh - because it turns my crank
    I'm going to resurrect this lens and try it in other conditions.

    Thanks
    Keith

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    As I do more research on this, it seems that people are classifying bokeh as good or bad. As I said earlier, I think bokeh is something you have to work with to get the artistic results you are looking for.
    When you buy a lens, you consider sharpness, fast or slow, and perhaps, bokeh. Choose the bokeh carefully because it can vary all over the place. Usually you see the effect of bokeh at wide aperture, so your style of photography will determine how important it is.
    Even first thoughts on a bad bokeh can be turned into a stunning image at the end.

    Keith
    Last edited by woodmancy; 2nd September 2009 at 19:00.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    The double line bokeh is ,for me, the most distracting;looks like camera shake.I could repeat what Ive already said here.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by nei1 View Post
    The double line bokeh is ,for me, the most distracting;looks like camera shake.I could repeat what Ive already said here.
    It was not possible for me to get the image I wanted through camera shake. But in other cases I have done that, for instance this one (but this also shows the influence of bokeh - so we have shaky bokeh)

    Keith


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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    When those home bread making machines came out a decade ago, it seemed that the latest thing since sliced bread was unsliced bread.

    Whats this bread talk to do with lenses? Well it seems the latest thing in lenses is now not how sharp they are but how well they blur things.

    Bokeh seems to be subjective and a matter of opinion. On the whole though there are only some bokehs I don't like - strangely the lenses from Zeiss/Contax nearly always seem to always have "nice" bokeh IMHO. Why is that?

    Any one got an example of Contax G1/G2 45mm bokeh? I seem to recall that was excellent.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by woodmancy View Post
    It was not possible for me to get the image I wanted through camera shake. But in other cases I have done that, for instance this one (but this also shows the influence of bokeh - so we have shaky bokeh)

    Keith


    Whatever youve done ,it looks good to me.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    When those home bread making machines came out a decade ago, it seemed that the latest thing since sliced bread was unsliced bread.

    Whats this bread talk to do with lenses? Well it seems the latest thing in lenses is now not how sharp they are but how well they blur things.

    Bokeh seems to be subjective and a matter of opinion. On the whole though there are only some bokehs I don't like - strangely the lenses from Zeiss/Contax nearly always seem to always have "nice" bokeh IMHO. Why is that?

    Any one got an example of Contax G1/G2 45mm bokeh? I seem to recall that was excellent.
    Tim, I look at the camera and the lens combination as an artistic tool. (I really get peed off when University professors say that photography is not an art)
    Many of the greatest photos taken with Leica cameras are not sharp and have obvious movement (Robert Capa, The Battle Begins, Omaha Beach) No one could care a fig that this picture is far from sharp. Had it have been sharp it would have been a document and not a picture.
    I would not dream of using my crazy "double line bokeh" lens on a landscape (not that I could, because the set up would not show it)

    Keith

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Sorry to harp on about this, but it is fascinating.
    I think that the reason that the issue of bokeh is now front and center is because of digital photography. Everything is immediate, and allows much more experimentation.
    Has anyone looked at the bokeh of a Holga? Sounds like a joke, but I'm being serious, (well, kind of).
    I realize this is a Leica thread, and I've only owned one in my life. Maybe the word Holga does not belong here (I feel a little uncomfortable !?)

    Keith

  25. #75
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    ..........the importance of bokeh is relative to the quality of the image/the quality of bokeh is relative to the importance of the image..............



    Bokeh is all smoke and no fire.
    Last edited by nei1; 5th September 2009 at 07:50.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by nei1 View Post
    ..........the importance of bokeh is relative to the quality of the image/the quality of bokeh is relative to the importance of the image..............



    Bokeh is all smoke and no fire.
    The quality of bokeh is relative to the importance of the image

    Bokeh is all fire and no smoke

    Keith

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    I've posted my first attempt at this over in the m4/3 forum. But here is another one.
    I am attempting to photograph my bokeh

    Keith


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