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Old 01-02-2010   #26
Phantomas
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I love me some bokeh. And yes, I often use it as a cheap trick. Shamelessly.
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Old 01-02-2010   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Anyone else remember the fashion photography of maybe 20-30 years ago (I forget exactly when it was) when 300/2.8 lenses were used wide open?
Certainly in the late eighties, but back then it was already inspired by fifties and sixties fashion photography - it obviously is a trend recurring every decade, just like very wide hyperfocal shots.

But back then we used the rather mediocre bokeh fast sports lenses of the time - strong OOF was good OOF, regardless of whether circle or donut shaped. OOF was a widespread tool, but certainly not a subject of its own.

The recent bokeh mania may be more due to a desire for social/peer group distinction, fuelled by technical changes. Any OOF is hard to attain with compacts or kit zoom DX crop digitals, as they are hyperfocal from macro to infinity in most operation modes, so that visible bokeh on digital implies either determination to adapt alien lenses (and risk camera damage) or a lush budget. Some bokeh shooters certainly display a "you can't do that with your inferior gear" spirit.
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Old 01-02-2010   #28
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Old 01-02-2010   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantomas View Post
I love me some bokeh. And yes, I often use it as a cheap trick. Shamelessly.
Some also think of B&W as "a cheap trick". It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Swing.
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Old 01-02-2010   #30
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Personally, I think 'bokeh' - meaning the quality of the way a lens renders out-of-focus areas - has become a kind of meaningless fetish amongst gear-heads. Different lenses do it differently: so what?

As for isolating the main subject by defocusing the rest of the image... well sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It's a weapon in the photographer's armoury. Pretty much anything in photography can seem clichéed now, which is why good photographers really stand out.
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Old 01-02-2010   #31
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I've read through this thread a couple of times and decided that I didn't really think that everybody was writing about the same subject. A lot of good points made and I always appreciate what Chris and Roger have to say. But I guess at least Ade-oh and I agree on a definition of 'bokeh' - the rendition of out of focus areas, the emphasis being on the rendition.

I think I might know what 'movements' are but an explanation might make some threads a bit more meaningful for me at least.

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Old 01-02-2010   #32
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I bet it's related to the rise of small sensor P&S and cell cameras. Those things have basically infinite depth of field (zero bokeh).

There are young people out there who have never used a large sensor camera of any type, digital or film. Then when they eventually buy some APS-C or full frame dSLR, the bokeh effects would look totally amazing. So I'm not really surprised people take pics to show off the bokeh.
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Old 01-02-2010   #33
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Would you consider using a Leica... bling? =)
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Old 01-02-2010   #34
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A very shallow depth of field is the only concrete feature that distinguishes the banality of vision from photographic vision. All else is merely manipulations of contrast and colour.

However I'm not talking of art. Bokeh, in the hands of the amateur, can result in an awful lot of glorified snapshots.
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Old 01-02-2010   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Dear Chris,


Actually, some LF lenses were designed so that they could be used wide open, and sometimes made a feature of this in their advertising: Super Angulons, for example (as compared with Angulons, where f/6.8 was definitely for focusing only). Then there are portrait lenses. And of course there's not much point in a 150/2.8 Xenotar if you're not going to use it wide open.

Cheers,

R.
A recent example of a professional photographer doing just this would be Douglas Kirkland's portraits of the cast of the movie Australia. for which he used an 8x10 DearDorff with a Kodak 12 inch Ektar F4.5 and a 8.5 inch Ektar.
NOTE: He also mentioned going further then wide open by removing part of the front elements of the lens. A trick shown to him by Authur Rothstein.

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Old 01-02-2010   #36
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It's just a tool. Usable as a toy. Overused as a toy, sometimes. But this is the nature of photography, no ? As long as more photos are taken, IMO, it's all good.

See this for instance:



The family really liked this photo of their son. Taken at a party for his acceptance at Berkeley.

And then, even hard core bokeh haters might like these:





No ?

It's not a very recent tool either, just the name is rather new. Check Robert Frank for instance. Bokeh shots everywhere.

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Old 01-02-2010   #37
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If the best thing you can say about a photo is "nice bokeh" it's probably not a very interesting photo. Someone here said that a while ago and I tend to agree.

Not sure why folks get worked up about use of bokeh. Out-of-focus pictures of coffee cups and the like don't float my boat, but if the photographer enjoys making them and looking at them, have at it. They're easy enough to ignore.
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Old 01-02-2010   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kouyoubushi View Post
Anyone else think that "bokeh"(really shallow DOF) is often the refuge of the unskilled/lazy shooter? I have seen many shots that, less shallow DOF, were completely unremarkable. Shallow DOF is a "tool" that like any other in your bag of tricks, is great when used judiciously, but becomes cliche when overused. A good photographer can coax a 5-star shot out of a mobile phone camera with a sensor smaller than the nail on your pinky toe. The cheap f/1.8 lens is awesome of course, but learning about lighting, timing, color, and composition are just as awesome, no?
Nope. Completely, and respectfully, disagree. Thoughts on bokeh:

1. It is a chromatic aberration, imo. It is the lens's inability to maintain focus over a sufficiently wide plane at wide apertures.

2. However, it emulates - at almost a symbolic level, how we perceive the world and is therefore indispensable. When my concentration is focused on a specific object, I have less attention focused on its surroundings. I'm conscious of them, but... Bokeh emulates this...

3. Of course, when I am perceiving or have my perception "fixed" on something it background doesn't go all "out of focus" - but it's exactly traits like this that makes photography so enigmatic. The world isn't black and white, but we accept black and white photos as real. The background (and/or foreground) isn't all blurry, but we accept this to. A different but compatable way of perception intrinsic to the camera - the camera isn't eye/brain...

4. As for its overuse? Perhaps, but when you're learning and becoming enamored with photography and beginning to understand it, it's natural to "play" - and one of the first things you "play" with as you begin to master the camera - and have "pride of authorship" around is controlling DOF. We all did it.
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Old 01-02-2010   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
If you use movements you're using a large format camera on a tripod. Large format lenses are NEVER used wide open, most are not very sharp wide open, achieving their best at f22 and often used around that aperture IF movements are possible. In my example, no movements could be used because any swing or tilt would severely defocus something in the photo. my architecture pic was shot with a medium format camera and 45m lens at f16, focus at hyperfocal distance. Worked great, client happy, I got paid. I was happy too
OK, you are right.
Just wanted to mention that old chap Scheimpflug, I like the name. My intention was to stir some movement(s) among RF people...
And your architectural photo is excellent, I like it, really I do.

However, LF lenses can be used wide open to obtain the BOKEH!

Canon 5D mounted on wooden Globica (13x18cm), Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 4.5/300:

http://www.ivanlozica.com/yahoo_site....358103931.jpg

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Old 01-02-2010   #40
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Shallow depth of field is often the refuge of the unskilled amateur , I speak from my early jump from the digital point and shoot to a canon 20d with a plastic fantastic 50mm 1.8, I shot that thing wide open nearly all the time. Why? because I could, I thought that made every photo better, I had no idea what bokeh or oof even meant. I eventually realized that those shots weren't made any better by the shallow dof , they were just bad shots in general.

I bought a fixed lense RF and decided I wanted to learn photography instead of my typical guess and hope the AF took care of the focus and the auto exposure figured out the light.

This forum has plenty of talent on it, and I've learned a great deal from people on here even though I never asked them for the help , I just read and tried what I learned , if it worked for me it became a tool for me to use.

Needless to say after the rather wordy lead up to this end, i use shallow dof sparingly now , as long as I can get a sharper image by using a smaller aperture that I can handhold, I do.

Overuse of shallow dof seems to me as much of a part of the learning process as anything else , use it like crazy at first , realize theres a time and a place , then use it as needed.

Gimmick , bling , cheap tricks , call it what you will. If it works use it and if its not right for the situation don't.

Im no pro , I'd consider myself a glorified snapshot maker.
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Old 01-02-2010   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chippy View Post
i think this thread was begun because the OP is really on a private vendetta to stamp out cats and coffee mugs... probably a cat knocked over a hot cup of coffee into the OP lap or got fur on his lens or maybe licked it ooh yuck
Cat saliva is notorious for destroying lens coatings.

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Old 01-02-2010   #42
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Judging by a lot of photos I see around the net posted by someone trumpeting their bokeh, I suspect those photographers are more interested in getting what they think is an interesting background -- lots of shiny but blurry little spots -- than in exploiting shallow depth of field.
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Old 01-02-2010   #43
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Slightly off-topic, but reading this thread made me think about the low-budget indie filmmaking community where for so many, OOF = production value/35mm look = professionalism.

In the last ten/fifteen years the trend has been for sticking so-called DOF adaptors onto relatively cheap prosumer camcorders. So your tiny 1/3" sensor films the image projected by 35mm lenses (often Nikkor AIS) onto a piece of randomly-moving ground glass. What with the 5d, 7d, d90, GH1 entering the 'HDSLR' market recently, the OOF fetish has got even worse. And it's not what you'd call 'bokeh', it's simply shallow DOF of whatever rendition.

In that world anyway, it definitely is a case of association (subconscious or otherwise) between shallow DOF and quality.
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Old 01-02-2010   #44
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OT -- About cat pictures:

I peruse a few sites every morning over breakfast. Before I get into the news, I take a look at the day's "Astronomy Picture of the Day" and then I look at the new cat pictures at ICanHasCheezburger. Sets me up for diving into whatever overnight miseries have taken place.
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Old 01-02-2010   #45
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Quote:
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Well, to me there is bokeh and bokeh. There is the coffee cup bokeh that melts away (C Sonnar):



There is a coffe cup bokeh that starts to be more structured (Planar):



and then there is the coffe table bokeh that starts taking over the picture (Summaron):



And finally a coffee table bokeh, that IS the picture (Summitar):



While initially I have been very much attracted to the Sonnar type bokeh, lately I am more intrigued by the bokeh of older Leica lenses. In fact, although I do not care at all for the f1.0 Noctilux's sharpness, I think this is the most interesting bokeh machine around:



Finally, I think that 99% of great pictures of this fellow (HCB) were sharp front to back ( at times I ask myself how he did it, considering that there were no high speed films available at the time). But in case of this shot, I really think that the blurred part is so good, that it could be a photo on its own - judge for yourself:

http://www.ldesign.com/Images/Essays...06/windsor.jpg

*applause*
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Old 01-02-2010   #46
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Originally Posted by -doomed- View Post

I bought a fixed lense RF and decided I wanted to learn photography instead of my typical guess and hope the AF took care of the focus and the auto exposure figured out the light.
Sorry to be blunt but I'm simply amazed at the number of people in these forums who blame digital for being lazy. Fact of the matter its the user's choice of how much or how little control he or she hands over to their equipment. Case in point you made the choice to use your 20D on auto exposure rather then manual and you made the choice to let the AF decide what to focus on instead of telling it what to focus on.


Rangefinders and film camera are wonderful tools that stand on their own merit without the need to make excuses about how digital make people lazy. People are lazy because they choose to be and can decided not lazy to be at anytime no matter what equipment they're using.
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Old 01-02-2010   #47
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No different than any other tool in a photographer's arsenal. It can be used well and it can be used badly.
But at times, I'd argue that it can a make an average shot better. Just like changing lenses can make a difference. Or changing perspective.
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Old 01-02-2010   #48
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I have always understood "bokeh" to be a term used in describing HOW a lens renders out of focus areas ( primarily stuff behind the subject/sharp bits).

"Bokeh for Bokeh's sake" seems to be either "playing around", or trying to demonstrate / market a given lens's performance. Bokeh-speak gets as flowerly / ridiculous as "winespeak".

I doubt there are many "serious" photographs where Bokeh is the main subject ?


(Personally, I like the geometric / polygonal bokeh offered by some of the older lenses.)

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Old 01-02-2010   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcary View Post
Sorry to be blunt but I'm simply amazed at the number of people in these forums who blame digital for being lazy. Fact of the matter its the user's choice of how much or how little control he or she hands over to their equipment. Case in point you made the choice to use your 20D on auto exposure rather then manual and you made the choice to let the AF decide what to focus on instead of telling it what to focus on.


Rangefinders and film camera are wonderful tools that stand on their own merit without the need to make excuses about how digital make people lazy. People are lazy because they choose to be and can decided not lazy to be at anytime no matter what equipment they're using.
No offense taken.

Perhaps I wasn't clear, I am not simply blaming the camera for my laziness when it came to just using the 20D as an overpriced point and shoot. I did use it manually once I became more confident, hence why I learned the plastic fantastic was capable of fantastic out of focus areas once I tried using it manual . I used it manual nearly full time once I understood some basics of photography.

I started using rangefinders with my canonet because I was fascinated by what a rangefinder was. The canonet can allow for one to be lazy as well with its shutter priority and ease of use. I made a decision that I enjoyed rangefinders and they fit me best over the SLR which I have sold off due to lack of use.

I'd never go out of my way to blame digital for my laziness at the time I was using it exclusively , nor would I blame shotgun shoot 1000 pictures and use what I like best and delete the rest. I was lazy at first because of my unwillingness to learn what it was that I was doing. When I realized I could shoot better if I took the time to learn what exactly it was that I was doing , I stepped up and made the effort to learn so i could become more consistent with my results.

Rangefinders fit my style better than an SLR , i rarely use zooms , or macro close ups. I still use digital but with a good point and shoot which I feel compliments my RF kit and is nice to throw in a pocket . Digital is fantastic , and if I could afford an Rd-1 , M8 , or M9 I'd buy and use them.

Maybe my initial statement was too broad .
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Old 01-02-2010   #50
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Quote:
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Nope. Completely, and respectfully, disagree. Thoughts on bokeh:

2. However, it emulates - at almost a symbolic level, how we perceive the world and is therefore indispensable. When my concentration is focused on a specific object, I have less attention focused on its surroundings. I'm conscious of them, but... Bokeh emulates this...

3. Of course, when I am perceiving or have my perception "fixed" on something it background doesn't go all "out of focus" - but it's exactly traits like this that makes photography so enigmatic.
my thoughts exactly, hold your hand in front of you and focus your gaze on it... is the background razor sharp or somewhat fuzzy?

Relax folks and let the 'bokeh' take over
I guess I'll never advance my amateur status..







and here's my obligatory 'fuzzy backgrounded' coffee shot...haters
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