The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I Like Good Bokeh

It is not hard to figure since I like using a Lensbaby so much that I would like bokeh.  Some people reading the blog now are thinking -- huh?  Bokeh?  How the heck do you even say it???

I prefer the pronunciation Bo-Keh as in BOne and KEn with an "h" on the end of it.  Just a week or so ago I was listening to a new podcast and the guys kept saying bo-kay.  Yes, I believe this is acceptable -- but I don't like it.  This is a Japanese term and does mean fuzzy -- it also refers to the cobwebs in the heads of older people.  Sometimes I think I have some of those cobwebs!  

Anyway -- I like good bokeh!  I love having a subject in sharp focus and the background (or other areas) very out of focus and even to the point of having the highlights look like I have water spots on my glasses.  I believe this is why I love using my Lensbabies.  Those lenses are the perfect bokeh makers.  On  the blog today there is a black and white photo that I used on my Christmas card this past season.  This shows the out of focus background and how the lights are abstract looking.  The highlight spots (along the beads) are not only out of focus here -- they are stretched slightly.  A companion photo to this one was featured on the blog in December, The Christmas Card.

Both of these Lensbaby images show bokeh.  The photo featured on the old blog post also shows how you can use special aperture disks to shape the out of focus highlights in the photo.  I love the stars in that photo!  DIY Photography has instructions online on how to create your own shaped highlights -- so if you don't have a Lensbaby (yet) and the creative aperture kit -- check out the link.

Another photo on the blog today is from the backyard.  It was taken in May of 2004 and I used my old Fujifilm S7000.  This camera has excellent macro capabilites -- including the super macro setting.  The aperture in this photo of a yellow lily after the rain was f/2.8 and the shutter speed was 1/100.  I love the sharpness and the out of focus areas equally.  I especially love the blue light that was coming under the fence and you can see it through the gaps in the petals.  The out of focus area and fuzzy highlights help make this a great photo.  This photo is one I never considered for black and white.

If you are in search of bokeh -- you will need a lens that can be opened up -- meaning the aperture needs to be large (the number small).  The 50mm lenses (1.2, 1.4, & 1.8) all will work.  I have the 1.4 and love love love that lens.  Also the 85mm (1.2 & 1.8) will also be an excellent choice.  Remember I am talking about these lenses from a Canon frame of mind.  Of course a Lensbaby works well; but think of this -- the yellow lily photo was taken with a super-zoom point and shoot.  

To see more examples of bokeh -- Google "bokeh".  You can also visit Flickr and search for groups devoted to bokeh and photos tagged with the work bokeh.   Now get out there and get those backgrounds out of focus!


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