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Thread: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

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    What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Hi All,

    It's been slow on the forum for a few weeks while everyone is either on vacation, busy with summer stuff, and I'll assume taking a bunch of images for sharing this fall.......we can only hope!

    Being a somewhat recent member and becoming a dedicated one at that, I've had the opportunity to meander my way around the various threads and enjoy some of the really great photography, news, and insights that are shared here. I've learned a lot in the process.

    As I got intrigued and then became hooked and sold on the leica digital M system I read a lot about "bokeh". As I read about it and examined the images I began to understand and recognize what it was. Could I describe it? I'm not sure. I think it was the wonderful bokeh that the Leica glass renders that drew me.

    So my question is ( I know there is a definition for this in the dictionary, BUT) what does the term"bokeh" mean to you? Please share your thoughts, and put into words what it is you recognize in an image that makes you think of it in terms of "bokeh". Here are a couple of my image taken with the 50 Lux pre-asph that I feel render "bokeh". By the way, thanks Jack for talking me into this lens, you were so right! "It has a wonderful bokeh"!

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    The standard definition is "the quality of the out-of-focus areas". To me it's something I pay attention to mostly when it's harsh, distracting my attention from the picture's subject. If I don't notice it, it's "good" bokeh.

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by doug View Post
    The standard definition is "the quality of the out-of-focus areas". To me it's something I pay attention to mostly when it's harsh, distracting my attention from the picture's subject. If I don't notice it, it's "good" bokeh.
    Hello doug,
    Your definition of "Bokeh" is pretty nice and I also agree with Gary P that many Leica lenses produce phenomenal bokeh. I enjoy using several Leica M and R lenses myself. Some Nikon lenses also produce pleasing bokeh as well. I recently posted the following image on another thread taken by a Nikon AF 50mm f1.4 lens. All the best, Leica 77


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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Great example leica 77! Here I see it and notice it, but not in a bad way at all. My eye is drawn to the sharpest region of the image and the out of focus area enhances my eyes venture around the image rather than distracting from it as it creates a montage of pleasing and relevant colors and shapes.

    I agree with your definition Doug thank you. I wonder if people sometimes use the term to mean something different or some added meaning in there mind when they see and think of it.

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary P View Post
    Great example leica 77! Here I see it and notice it, but not in a bad way at all. My eye is drawn to the sharpest region of the image and the out of focus area enhances my eyes venture around the image rather than distracting from it as it creates a montage of pleasing and relevant colors and shapes.

    I agree with your definition Doug thank you. I wonder if people sometimes use the term to mean something different or some added meaning in there mind when they see and think of it.
    Hello Gary P,
    Many thanks for your positive feedback. Your comments are much appreciated. Best wishes, Leica 77

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Hello Gary P,
    This image was recorded using one of my favorite Leica lenses, Summicron 90mm lens made in Canada. Thank you. Leica 77


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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Some Leica Bokeh...I'm addicted!

    35 Lux


    50 Lux PRE


    50 Sonnar


    90 cron


    Noctilux


    50 Lux ASPH


    75 Summarit


    50 Lux ASPH
    Leica M8, M9 & Lens Reviews!
    http://www.stevehuffphoto.com

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Eeeeh Geeeeez Steven you sCAT me!

    Lovely examples of the bokeh I must say! I am a true fan I'm going to confess that as I've been reading and looking at and about peoples images and as they referred to the "bokeh" before I new the formal definition my interpretation was........well, .....wrong, but my interpretation it felt good. I examined these beautiful images with wonderful tonality, controlled out of focus areas, and sharpness/contrast beauty that I hadn't seen before from other mfg. lenses. I thought that it all encompassed the definition of the lenses beautiful bokeh.

    Is it really only referring to the quality of the blur? Or is it more than that in other peoples minds like it was for me?

    Gary p

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    When i think of Bokeh, I think CREAMY & SOFT....
    OM1 / zuiko 50 1.4.
    RD1 / C Sonnar
    M2 / 50 pre asph lux
    Summarit 1.5

    click on to make BIGGER

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Yes, creamy and soft! I couldn't agree more. Thanks Helen!

    Gary

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Here's a couple with butter behind. Lili is Nikon 70-200, red leaves is 75 Summilux.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Really beautiful TR, thank you! Interesting that many of our examples of bokeh are of flowers Bouquet anyone!

    Gary

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    to me it is part of the equation.

    what is really interesting is that we didn't know it existed before we had optics (and still, we have always "seen" it)
    Last edited by gero; 23rd September 2009 at 11:50.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?



    M7 75 lux - quality of OOF renditon is nmy definition - subject matter and true focal point must POP as well as before and after gradation out of focus must be gentle and pleasing - like a soft kiss.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Beautiful shot Peter. Stunning woman.

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU? Summicron 90mm. Our Family Pet. Thanks for looking. Leica 77


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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    [QUOTE=Leica 77;121125]Hello doug,
    Your definition of "Bokeh" is pretty nice and I also agree with Gary P that many Leica lenses produce phenomenal bokeh. I enjoy using several Leica M and R lenses myself. Some Nikon lenses also produce pleasing bokeh as well. I recently posted the following image on another thread taken by a Nikon AF 50mm f1.4 lens. All the best, Leica 77

    P.S. I am reposting the following image as it lost its connection to my database for reasons unknown. Thank you.


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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    for me bokeh is quite important for some type of images, portraits for example.

    It makes a big difference in the overall appearance of the image if you have a smooth or a distracting bokeh. Maybe it influences the appearance even more (I do think so) than the last bit of sharpness or detail.

    Overall I have very good experience with many of the Leica M lenses.
    The new Sigma 50/1.4 is great too, as are the Nikon 85, 105DC, 135DC mm lenses, and the 28/1.a from Nikon.

    In MF its the 110 which I love.

    Specially interesting for me are the fast wide angels, where you could combine a shallow DOF and wide angle view.

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU? As I mentioned previously, I enjoy using Leica M and R lenses because of their intrinsic qualities to produce phenomenal bokeh. For comparative purposes, I post an image produced by a popular Nikon lens - AF Nikkor 18-200mm VR. Some people may find the bokeh pleasing, others may not. Appreciating the bokeh appears to fall within the realm of people's subjective opinions in many instances. Thank you. Leica 77


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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post


    M7 75 lux - quality of OOF renditon is nmy definition - subject matter and true focal point must POP as well as before and after gradation out of focus must be gentle and pleasing - like a soft kiss.
    Peter!

    To me Bokeh, now, is one of the tools that help with the composition. I am also convinced that it is one of the most difficult tools to use for this purpose.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leica 77 View Post
    What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU? As I mentioned previously, I enjoy using Leica M and R lenses because of their intrinsic qualities to produce phenomenal bokeh. For comparative purposes, I post an image produced by a popular Nikon lens - AF Nikkor 18-200mm VR. Some people may find the bokeh pleasing, others may not. Appreciating the bokeh appears to fall within the realm of people's subjective opinions in many instances. Thank you. Leica 77

    looks good to me.

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    looks good to me.
    Hello t_streng,
    Many thanks for your informative comments. Best wishes, Leica 77

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Peter!

    To me Bokeh, now, is one of the tools that help with the composition. I am also convinced that it is one of the most difficult tools to use for this purpose.
    Hello Vivek,
    I agree with you that it "is one of the tools that help with the composition ... it is one of the most difficult tools to use for this purpose". PeterA's image represents a nice example of the effective use of Bokeh for composing the portrait of a young lady. Best wishes, Leica 77

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    I tried to think of when was "Bokeh" first in our collective conscious; I thought of VanGogh and the Impressionists so here are some pictures of him that might have it.
    Last edited by gero; 23rd September 2009 at 11:50.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    I would say that this picture of Arne is about bokeh even though it does not have anything out of focus.

    http://forum.getdpi.com/forum/attach...3&d=1249414800

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    I would also say that the Baroque and specially the Spanish B. is a lot about Bokeh.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Bokeh is an important part of our perception God.
    Last edited by gero; 5th August 2009 at 09:11.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    one more of my eccentric view of bokeh
    Last edited by gero; 23rd September 2009 at 11:50.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    So, isn't bokeh that special something that really good wines have?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    no, that is bouquet.

    Is bouquet that group of beautiful flowers that stand out from the room?

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    ??
    Last edited by gero; 23rd September 2009 at 11:50.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    so in trying to answer the question:

    The out of focus in any image has been a part of our unconscious perception since we can see (since we were fishes?); it is an inherent part of any optic (including our eyes). At the same time we are so used to concentrate on what is in focus and treat the rest as secondary that when we see an object like a printed picture, we are, for the first time in our lives (since we where fish) that we are starting to question what that other part of the image is for. That to me makes it very unique.

    If I where with Mies Vanderohe when he said that "god is in the detail"; I would answer that, he is also in the rest.
    Last edited by gero; 7th August 2009 at 09:33.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    What does bokeh mean to me?

    Someone needs to counter the sentimental mainstream of this thread, I'd rather it was someone else but here goes. Bokeh means [to me] out of focus; and casually conceived photographic images telling me what the lens thinks when I really want to see what the photographer thinks. I tend to associate 'bokeh' photography with ordinariness and lightweight imagery which does not sustain my attention. I make a distinction between the necessity of shooting wide open in poor light when the photographer has no option but to accept what wide open apertures bring, and the obsessive wide aperture photography with fast shutter speeds which seems to be prevalent in forums.

    When I think of the photographs which I would consider masterpieces of the medium, I cannot recall one image which would be represented in a 'bokeh' thread such as this. It is those masterpieces which inspire me, not out of focus rendering of light ideas. Sorry folks, the bokeh mainstream is not for me.

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

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    my bokeh ;-)
    Endre
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Bokeh of the Leica Summarit 2.5/75 at an M8
    LEICA M8, real fun
    web.me.com/reimarerfle

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by skiffletiger View Post
    Bokeh of the Leica Summarit 2.5/75 at an M8
    Very nice bokeh, skiffletiger! All the best, Leica 77

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    Smile Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by endre novak View Post
    my bokeh ;-)
    Beautiful bokeh, endre novak! Best wishes, Leica 77

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leica 77 View Post
    Beautiful bokeh, endre novak! Best wishes, Leica 77
    many thanks,

    endre

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leica 77 View Post
    Very nice bokeh, skiffletiger! All the best, Leica 77
    thanks a lot....
    LEICA M8, real fun
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    ~ what do you make of this ? ~
    | ektar100 | apo-summicron-m | mp.85 |
    Last edited by Knorp; 8th February 2010 at 09:32.
    Bart ...

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Doug is correct. The out of focus area is the technical term, but it's not always relegated to supporting a central character. It can tell it's own story, sometimes in a more intriguing or discrete fashion.



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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post
    What does bokeh mean to me?

    Someone needs to counter the sentimental mainstream of this thread, I'd rather it was someone else but here goes. Bokeh means [to me] out of focus; and casually conceived photographic images telling me what the lens thinks when I really want to see what the photographer thinks. I tend to associate 'bokeh' photography with ordinariness and lightweight imagery which does not sustain my attention. I make a distinction between the necessity of shooting wide open in poor light when the photographer has no option but to accept what wide open apertures bring, and the obsessive wide aperture photography with fast shutter speeds which seems to be prevalent in forums.

    When I think of the photographs which I would consider masterpieces of the medium, I cannot recall one image which would be represented in a 'bokeh' thread such as this. It is those masterpieces which inspire me, not out of focus rendering of light ideas. Sorry folks, the bokeh mainstream is not for me.

    ................ Chris
    Interesting Thread!

    Well, if you think of out of focus bokeh as looking through tears, you can consider it as sentimental, although not all tears are due to sentimental reasons. What's wrong with sentiments anyway? They appear in

    Overall razorsharp images are the trend and mainstream as far as I can see.
    I do like razor sharp images with endless DOF but why be so severe about some vague areas in a picture, and the beauty it can produce and the functionality it can have to make a subject stand out?
    Eduard J. Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz were masters in it.
    May be out of technical necessaty of the time, but it worked.
    Today an artist as Gerhard Richter makes portrait photographs and paintings which are full of smooth bokeh. They don't look sentimental to me, but intriqueing. He must be an artist and no photographer.

    As if light merely exists to present us the facts.
    Did you ever see the tales on the wall in twilight?

    Best regards, michiel

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    They appear in sharp images by the dozen.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel Schierbeek View Post
    Interesting Thread!

    Well, if you think of out of focus bokeh as looking through tears, you can consider it as sentimental, although not all tears are due to sentimental reasons. What's wrong with sentiments anyway?
    Michiel that is a poetic thought, I like the idea of it being "as looking through tears".

    I like "move on" in your site
    Last edited by gero; 15th August 2009 at 09:13.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michiel Schierbeek View Post
    ... if you think of out of focus bokeh as looking through tears....
    Michiel - I don't, and to play with your allusion - the world seen through my tears looks like crap and not like anything meriting a photograph. I think of most 'bokeh' examples as formulaic, sometimes lazy, and simplistic photography. Where you appear to see poetic creation, I tend to see uninteresting repetitions of a very worn path. Has a masterpiece of the medium ever been made in daylight with a Noctilux?

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

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post


    M7 75 lux - quality of OOF renditon is nmy definition - subject matter and true focal point must POP as well as before and after gradation out of focus must be gentle and pleasing - like a soft kiss.
    Still one of my favorites of yours Peter

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post
    Michiel - I don't, and to play with your allusion - the world seen through my tears looks like crap and not like anything meriting a photograph. I think of most 'bokeh' examples as formulaic, sometimes lazy, and simplistic photography. Where you appear to see poetic creation, I tend to see uninteresting repetitions of a very worn path. Has a masterpiece of the medium ever been made in daylight with a Noctilux?

    .............. Chris
    Chris, perhaps you are confusing content with technique? Bokeh often presents itself in sentimental close ups of smaller objects like flowers and pets because that's what gets shot a lot ... and if that's what people want to shoot, it's their choice. But mixing up the two may be "diffusing" the subject at hand.

    While Bokeh is easier to describe in poetic terms, in actuality it is mimicking the nature of how the eye and brain work (i.e., scientific observation rather than artistic). As you stare at this posting on screen, what is behind your computer is not the "focus" of your brain ... it is there, but a fuzzy comprehension of it. To see it clearly, you would have to shift the eye/brain focus to it .... and then eye/brain then can't "read" the screen anymore.

    IMO, the more that a lens mimics the nature of how we see, the better the Bokeh. All others then are "artistic" deviations from this ... which is also the users choice as a compositional or perceptual tool to convey ideas or personal perceptions.

    Peter A's excellent portrait uses controlled out-of-focus to make you look at the woman's face or more specifically her eyes. It's a tool of "looking".

    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? The Nocti is a lower contrast specialty lens designed to suppress night time specular highlight and flare, while seeing into the murky shadows ... thus the name "Nocti".

    Here is my "sentimental" contribution to this Bokeh thread done with the superb Canon 85/1.2 @ f/1.2. It is a pure candid where I maneuvered to place the out of focus highlight in the background to continue the wave like flow of the woman's veil/hat.
    Last edited by fotografz; 21st August 2009 at 04:05.

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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Sometimes Bokeh can drive you in a strange and oniric world. I use a Canon 50mm/ 0.95 lens on the M8 to achieve strange colors and bizarre geometry in the OOF area... (Canon used to call this glass the 'dreamlens'). I do like it.

    http://www.kliclak.net/photoblog/ind...?showimage=172
    http://www.kliclak.net/photoblog/ind...?showimage=185

    BTW What a beautifull portrait ! I love it...
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    http://stef974.tumblr.com/
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  49. #49
    Super Duper
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    Here are some additional samples of Bokeh I like ... I felt compelled to search out kids, and pets ...

    Girl with strawberry (disaster about to happen?) ... done with a HC/100/2.2. Just enough Bokeh background to give it a sense of place.

    Cowboy with his horse and dog ... with a H/C 150/3.2... this was for a commercial shoot, and the slicker he was wearing was the product. Soft OOF rendering of background lighting rather than sharp busy detail that could distract from the product. Creates a sense of multi-layered depth.

    B&W of a guy with his dog done with an old time rock 'n roll M 90/2.8 (still one of my favorite M lenses) showing both front and back OOF areas to help drive the eye to the subject.

    -Marc

  50. #50
    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: What does "Bokeh" mean to YOU?

    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?

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