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Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 13:33
Selective focus is one thing: turning a jumbled background into a blur. But more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.

This isn't a 'bokeh' issue. It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me.

Is this pure habituation/age (when I started in the 60s, there were still plenty of cameras that stopped at 1/500 second)? Or is it that I'm seeing a fashion that will, with any luck, be short lived?

Cheers,

R.

Chinasaur
04-27-2011, 13:36
Have an Example...or three?

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 13:40
Have an Example...or three?

Not without being rude. I've said I think it looks awful, so it's a bit tactless to provide examples.

Cheers,

R.

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 13:41
The doughnut highlights of mirror lenses were popular in the 1970s.

With Kodachrome II and Panatomic-X, 1/500th was plenty and 1/1000 was reserve.

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 13:43
The doughnut highlights of mirror lenses were popular in the 1970s.

With Kodachrome II and Panatomic-X, 1/500th was plenty and 1/1000 was reserve.

Dear Brian,

'Popular' is one way of putting it. 'Widely reviled' is another.

Cheers,

R.

user237428934
04-27-2011, 13:44
The fashion is called "use your lens always wide open". If you have a Noctilux it would be stupid to use it stopped down to 1.4 or even 2 :)

Darshan
04-27-2011, 13:47
You bring up a very good point Roger.
Thinking about it, I am used to seeing "sunny" photos with everything in focus and "nightly" or "indoor" photos with selective focus.
One argument can be: people now do it because they "can". In this modern world of super-fast lenses, ND filters and 1/8000 sec speed, I guess our eyes haven't yet seen everything that is to be seen.
Some would call it crazy while others, evolution.
Some would call it "unconstitutional" while other, experimental.
To each their own.

tlitody
04-27-2011, 13:50
Boke: an old Scottish word for vomit. There's a nauseating connection for you.

tbarker13
04-27-2011, 14:01
Just depends on the subject matter, I suppose. There are times when I love to see a scene that's all in focus. But there are other times when, to me, it feels like the photographer just didn't really know what he/she was shooting or trying to say with the image.

peterm1
04-27-2011, 14:04
Depends what you are used to. I cant say I have expecially seen any objectionable trend. But then again I like using selective focus when I think its appropriate. One might even be able say the opposite - because of the number of photos taken with small sensor cameras these days too many photos have every thing in focus.

David_Manning
04-27-2011, 14:09
I think it has a cinematic look, which is nice...but obviously very subjective. If a shooter is trying to convey an objective "documentary" style, then it is the wrong look. Selective focus forces the viewer to look where the photographer wants, not where the viewer wants.

I think this is why most photojournalism I see has deep DoF...for an "objective" take.

My opinion is that many shooters don't put that much thought into it...they like the look, or see it used in a way they like, and try to emulate it.

Also, there is a trend to prove you have a larger sensor by being able to selectively focus, and so naturally it is used as often as possible.

I like shallow DoF and selective focus...but I like shooting with a subjective eye.

GSNfan
04-27-2011, 14:11
Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.

tbarker13
04-27-2011, 14:15
And also a great way to shoot creative images.
Just because a tool is misused - that doesn't make it a bad tool.

tlitody
04-27-2011, 14:16
I seem to remember an "Is boKeh overated?" thread recently. Not quite the same angle on it but not so different.

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94181

daveywaugh
04-27-2011, 14:18
I think there's also a push for OOF shots due to online reproduction efficiency. For web, there's always been a preference for the shots you are describing Roger, primarily because they compress so well. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that's why sooo much stock imagery is devoted to bokeh ;-) I don't believe its just a creative issue - selective focus photos are simply much easier to work with.

I do like shots wide open generally but your point is a good one - it can get 'too much'. The comments re: small v large sensor are interesting too. I hate the small sensor digi look where everything is always in focus ;-)

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 14:20
And also a great way to shoot creative images.
Just because a tool is misused - that doesn't make it a bad tool.

Dear Tim,

I think that's the point: it's a tool that seems to me to be grossly (and incompetently) overused at the moment. A couple of days ago I shot something at f/1.4 to 'lose' the background, but that was the point: there was nothing left in focus that was clear enough to be distracting. It's the shots where the background is still too clear and distracting where the technique fails.

Cheers,

R.

David_Manning
04-27-2011, 14:20
<<Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.>>

I'm not sure I agree with this at all. Speaking for myself only, I can't always control the background or background elements...but I can choose to make them less visible. Throwing distracting elements out of focus is but one method. Shooting in a studio is another :)

Pickett Wilson
04-27-2011, 14:20
I think it's just a phase folks are going through. Tastes are on a giant pendulum that swings back and forth.

Brian Legge
04-27-2011, 14:21
GSNfan, I disagree. Its just one (of many) techniques for isolating a subject.

A lot of people have been shooting small sensor cameras with slower lenses for a while. I think bokeh became a novelty as a result. It became a 'unique look', reserved for those shooting full frame or medium format. I think this furthered the mystique and perception of quality.

Now that we have full frame cameras coming, I'd expect to see more of this for a little while.

If anything, those of us prone to using DoF for isolation could be accused of being lazy and under-utilizing other techniques which address the issue.

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 14:22
I think there's also a push for OOF shots due to online reproduction efficiency. For web, there's always been a preference for the shots you are describing Roger, primarily because they compress so well.
Dear Davey,

Fascinating argument! Thanks!

Cheers,

R,

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 14:23
Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.

Savage, but not entirely inaccurate.

Cheers,

R.

hipsterdufus
04-27-2011, 14:37
Doesn't this depend on what you're shooting? Portraiture lends itself to shallow DOF and landscapes/street lend themselves to more DOF, as general rules. You can always break the rules, but there should be a reason. At least, that's what I was always taught in my classes.

joachim
04-27-2011, 14:49
Selective focus is one thing: turning a jumbled background into a blur. But more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.

This isn't a 'bokeh' issue. It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me.

Is this pure habituation/age (when I started in the 60s, there were still plenty of cameras that stopped at 1/500 second)? Or is it that I'm seeing a fashion that will, with any luck, be short lived?

Cheers,

R.

Hi Roger,

I'd really like to see some samples to understand the "blur level" you are writing about. I start to sense that you are objecting to a "middle ground" here - not totally blurred but not share either.

A "slightly out of focus" background can be used to emphasis the subject while still showing the setting. The blur also adds depth to the image, the more the blur the further away the object is from the main subject.

I tend to experience that required blur levels for something to work depend on reproduction size of the image - for web viewing one tends to need more blur than, say for a 8x10 print.

Joachim

scottgee1
04-27-2011, 15:02
I too have observed what I think Roger is describing. Typically used for portraits with a background that is so OOF that it looks like the subject is standing in front of a rear projection screen thus creating an image that looks fake -- even though it may not be.

I hope Pickett is correct and that this is just another phase, rather like all those folks who made wide-angle portraits while standing on a ladder and looking down on their subjects.

tbarker13
04-27-2011, 15:08
At the risk of setting myself up for ridicule, I'll put up an example here that may be the sort of thing you are talking about. The background here is obviously not blurred to oblivion. And definitely not in focus.
This was very intentional on my part - feeling that the background maintained enough focus to make it clear what the object in the distance is.
This was part of a small documentary project I did on the refurbishment of an old WWII-era bomber. And this is Mitchell, the hangar dog.

It was a muddy, rainy, overcast day. But I suspect there was room to get more in focus if I wanted to. If anything, I wish I'd gotten a lower perspective to cut some of the dead space between the dog and the plane, but I like the focus just the way it is.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/2903320001_06ab456b01_z.jpg

Keith
04-27-2011, 15:09
Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.


Why do people have to generalise about techniques that are a matter of personal choice for the person actually taking the photo. Talk about stamping your own opinion on a subject ...

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 15:22
I am all over this one, Baby...

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=171&pictureid=2555

Reflex-Nikkor 500/8, K-25, Nikon F Photomic "Bullseye".

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=171&pictureid=2553

j j
04-27-2011, 15:25
Our eyes focus selectively. It is the sharp front to back image that is contrived and artificial.

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 15:26
Nobody beats the Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.4 for over-correction of spherical aberration.

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=166&pictureid=1573

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=166&pictureid=1559

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 15:37
Stare into the light and believe...

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/517/closeup_f15.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=437&title=new-close-focus&cat=517)

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 15:43
How I learned to stop worrying and love the bokeh...

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/565/dogwood_f15.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2256&title=dogwood-f1-5&cat=565)

rover
04-27-2011, 15:44
You ain't nothing Brian until you break out the Canon .95 photos.

Keith
04-27-2011, 15:46
Woo hoo ... go Brian! :D

Brian Legge
04-27-2011, 15:53
Heck with the Canon, pull out the Aero Ektar. ;)

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 16:06
You ain't nothing Brian until you break out the Canon .95 photos.

I do not want to cause any more computer fires.

50/1.1 Nokton, wide-open.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/552/grass2_f1p1.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1452&title=grass2-f1p1&cat=552)

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 16:14
Well, as long as no one is running an FPS120b off of a VAX 11/780... What the heck.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/585/wide_open_test1a.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2287&title=canon-50-2f0-95&cat=585)

daveywaugh
04-27-2011, 16:19
Stare into the light and believe...

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/517/closeup_f15.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=437&title=new-close-focus&cat=517)

I love this pic. Stunning.

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 16:22
Nothing is as scary as Collapsible Summicron Bokeh.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/500/coll_summicron_redleaves_f2a.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2288&title=collapsible-summicron-2c-f2&cat=500)

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 16:22
I love this pic. Stunning.

Thankyou! This is with a Jupiter-3, modified for close-focus. Wide-open at F1.5.

The Standard Deviant
04-27-2011, 16:26
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5001/5310216696_9112858f0f_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/inanima/5310216696/)

Brian Sweeney
04-27-2011, 16:33
Well... I've been on the same pendulum swing since 1979. Now I am better at optimizing the lenses for use wide-open.

Peter Wijninga
04-27-2011, 16:35
Some of the photos in this thread clearly outperform the statements by the background/boheh police.

Keith
04-27-2011, 16:39
Some of the photos in this thread clearly outperform the statements by the background/boheh police.


__________________ +1

The Standard Deviant
04-27-2011, 16:44
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1424/5183425670_5d58b7ee60_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/inanima/5183425670/)

Bob Michaels
04-27-2011, 17:10
<snip> It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me. <snip>

Roger: obviously you did not get the message that if a little is good, then a lot must be better and the max is best.

We have been provided many powerful tools in the modern era. It appears that they sometimes get overused. Often to the point that tool usage becomes the message the photo delivers, not some emotion about the subject. More unfortunate is that this is often deliberate by the photographer whose primary objective is to demonstrate his competence with the new tool.

I think we all go through these phases of tool overuse (selective focus / HDR / removal of distracting elements in Photoshop / etc.) Fortunately these phases eventually run their course most of the time.

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 20:25
I think it depends completely on the image. Narrow depth of field can be a great tool when it's used correctly (and even then, it's very subjective).

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 20:27
Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.
in some cases it is, but this doesn't mean that every photo with an out of focus background is a 'dirty and cheap' attempt at making a good photo. This is a very inaccurate over-generalization.

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 20:33
Throwing the background out of focus is a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots without being creative.
in some cases it is, but this doesn't mean that every photo with an out of focus background is a 'dirty and cheap' attempt at making a good photo. This is a very inaccurate over-generalization.

alistair.o
04-27-2011, 20:35
I think it depends completely on the image. Narrow depth of field can be a great tool when it's used correctly (and even then, it's very subjective).

Absolutely - photography is about freedom. We are always asking for more 'film users' but, are we saying 'film-users' after our taste?

One very important point in this is that people must know and understand their lenses (especially their lens limitations)

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 20:37
I do not want to cause any more computer fires.

50/1.1 Nokton, wide-open.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/552/grass2_f1p1.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1452&title=grass2-f1p1&cat=552)

I don't understand how some people still think this lens is not sharp wide open (when most of the times their photos are unsharp due to camera shake). You're not helping with my CV Nokton (35 1.2 and 50 1.1) GAS Brian! :D

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 20:39
Absolutely - photography is about freedom. We are always asking for more 'film users' but, are we saying 'film-users' after our taste?

One very important point in this is that people must know and understand their lenses (especially their lens limitations)
Completely agree. I prefer film myself, but I have seen amazing work made with digital gear, so I only see it as a personal preference. It's just what works for me.

logaan
04-27-2011, 21:28
I suspect this is the type of thing he's talking about. This is one of my shots of a stranger I met off the street. I go for shallow depth of field because I didn't have the skill or opportunity to find a background with leading lines that would focus the viewer on the subject. Shooting them within a couple of minutes of meeting them also often leads to some pretty dull/distracting backgrounds as well, so shallow dof is safer.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5123/5309972190_69acfe570f.jpg

Keith
04-27-2011, 21:34
I think by refering to OOF backgrounds as 'sickly' the OP was asking to have it rammed down his throat ... and that's what's happened!

Thanks for effectively starting another 'show us your bokeh' thread Roger! :D

alistair.o
04-27-2011, 21:46
OK then - how about a:

'Show us your 99.999% out focus shots with 0.001% (i.e. a pixel - no maybe not that term!) in focus?

Let's call it 'Art a la Turneresque' darling.

Roberto V.
04-27-2011, 21:46
And now, some nauseating, out of focus backgrounds :D

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5144/5663034743_146e51a14b_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5663034743/)
Blueberry Nights part IV (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5663034743/) by Roberto V. (http://www.flickr.com/people/roberto_v/), on Flickr

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1128/5098352323_f6a5832aa4_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5098352323/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5098352323/) by Roberto V. (http://www.flickr.com/people/roberto_v/), on Flickr

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4106/5027784219_fa6b246c61_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5027784219/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5027784219/) by Roberto V. (http://www.flickr.com/people/roberto_v/), on Flickr

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2732/4369172735_b1605c9e96_z.jpg?zz=1 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/4369172735/)
Solitude (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/4369172735/) by Roberto V. (http://www.flickr.com/people/roberto_v/), on Flickr

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5089/5225587348_f3ab8b0ec0_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5225587348/)
Untitled (http://www.flickr.com/photos/roberto_v/5225587348/) by Roberto V. (http://www.flickr.com/people/roberto_v/), on Flickr

hxpham
04-27-2011, 22:25
I like to use large aperture lenses to keep the subject isolated in somewhat wide shots where normally you would have little subject isolation, rather than totally abstracting the background. :)
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5225/5636781160_9a2e7d6c76_z.jpg

Ade-oh
04-27-2011, 22:32
There are plenty of photographic clichés out there, and OOF backgrounds are just one of them. How about sunlight streaming through the wooden slats of a derelict building? Or faded paint peeling from a wooden door? Or a topless model with her hands over her boobs? Or dirty-faced homeless people staring into the lens in grainy black and white?

The thing is that when done well, or with a slightly new slant, all of these clichés can become interesting again, so I can't see any strong reason to get annoyed by them. People have to learn, and that's normally done by imitation, trial and error - particularly amongst us amateurs.

Keith
04-27-2011, 22:35
I went searching for an image that was posted in my Pentax 67 gas thread by Gian and I found it ... I hope he doesn't mind me posting it here! :)

It's one of my favourite 'sickly OOF area' images. That Takumar 105mm f2.4 is a horrible lens all right and typifies this talentless technique of isolating your subject. :D


http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2689/4282188097_606b684fd7_o.jpg

tlitody
04-27-2011, 23:04
Perhaps the simple answer is to pay attention to the main subject instead of analysing over the background. But when all is said and done it's upto the photographer how they want it to look and you either like it or you don't. It's really not important what someone who doesn't like the background thinks.

alistair.o
04-27-2011, 23:11
I went searching for an image that was posted in my Pentax 67 gas thread by Gian and I found it ... I hope he doesn't mind me posting it here! :)

It's one of my favourite 'sickly OOF area' images. That Takumar 105mm f2.4 is a horrible lens all right and typifies this talentless technique of isolating your subject. :D




Don't agree with you there Keith. I think that is a lovely 3D effect and I am drawn to concentrate on the subject.

Keith
04-27-2011, 23:17
Don't agree with you there Keith. I think that is a lovely 3D effect and I am drawn to concentrate on the subject.


Well ... I was being tongue in cheek.

I totally agree with you ... it's a spectacular example IMO! :)


Some more 3D effect from OOF backgrounds with 4x5 ... though minor it really emphasises the poles etc in the foreground.


http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g196/wheelie52/RFF%20Storage/linville5x4_07-2.jpg

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 23:28
At the risk of setting myself up for ridicule, I'll put up an example here that may be the sort of thing you are talking about. The background here is obviously not blurred to oblivion. And definitely not in focus.
This was very intentional on my part - feeling that the background maintained enough focus to make it clear what the object in the distance is.
This was part of a small documentary project I did on the refurbishment of an old WWII-era bomber. And this is Mitchell, the hangar dog.

It was a muddy, rainy, overcast day. But I suspect there was room to get more in focus if I wanted to. If anything, I wish I'd gotten a lower perspective to cut some of the dead space between the dog and the plane, but I like the focus just the way it is.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/2903320001_06ab456b01_z.jpg

Dear Tim,

Thanks very much for daring to put up an example. This is sort of half way to what I meant. Now imagine that you had another aeroplane and a hangar in the background: big, simple shapes, recognizable, but out of focus. ONE thing out of focus like this seems fine to me: it's when there's neither real blur, nor a simple, well-thought-out composition, but something sharp in front of a messy, not-quite-unclear-enough background.

This thread is not a lot to do with bokeh, which is the quality of the out of focus iage. It's more to do with the quantity of the out-of-focus image, and its composition.

See also my post below.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
04-27-2011, 23:44
I suspect this is the type of thing he's talking about. This is one of my shots of a stranger I met off the street. I go for shallow depth of field because I didn't have the skill or opportunity to find a background with leading lines that would focus the viewer on the subject. Shooting them within a couple of minutes of meeting them also often leads to some pretty dull/distracting backgrounds as well, so shallow dof is safer.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5123/5309972190_69acfe570f.jpg

Again, thanks for posting. Your pic, at least to me, is a perfect example of how selective focus can and should be used: an all but total blur, in indifferent light. We know what is likely to be behind the principal subject: we are not interested in straining to see it. It's when the background provides real context, and isn't sharp, that the problem arises for me. Even then, it can be used intelligently, as in the picture 'quoted' in the post above.

Looking through the pics here, and reading the responses, two more things occur to me. One is that selective focus often works better in colour than in B+W (at least for me), and the other -- concerning the psychology of vision -- is that because our eyes focus on one thing, then on another, we are normally much less aware of the background in real life than in a photo: as soon as our eyes refocus on it, the background becomes (in a sense) the subject.

In a photograph, where we can take in everything at once, on a single plane, selective focus works best when we can look at the principal subject; consider the background, and think, "Oh, yeah, background, I can ignore that" (just as we do in real life), and refocus our attention on the principal subject. When the background forces itself upon us -- when, in other words, we would refocus our eyes on it in the real world, so see what it was -- and it's lacking the information we want, THAT´S when shallow d-o-f fails.

In fact, as a further thought, I'd say that an ill-done selective focus shot is akin to the classic amateur error of the person with a tree immediately behind them, apparently growing out of their head. The photographer has not paid enough attention to the background, but instead of ignoring it, they have lazily assumed that they can throw it out of focus.

Finally, note 'ill done' and 'for me'. This is always on a case-by-case background, and intensely personal. Thanks to everyone who has responded so far.

Cheers,

R.

c.poulton
04-28-2011, 00:01
It's definately a fashion - one which the camera companies have picked up on:

From the Sony Nex 5 web site:

Background Defocus
"Create professional-looking images with a crisp foreground subject against a smoothly blurred background, just like a DSLR camera"

As for me, I use DoF as a tool, either because I have to (low light, fast glass) or to isolate a subject from the background for pictorial reasons...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5070/5585921226_ac6ed5e01d.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianpoulton/5585921226/)
34180002 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianpoulton/5585921226/) by Christian Poulton (http://www.flickr.com/people/christianpoulton/)

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5022/5585327009_5ebc44cdb2.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianpoulton/5585327009/)
34170027 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianpoulton/5585327009/) by Christian Poulton (http://www.flickr.com/people/christianpoulton/)

alistair.o
04-28-2011, 00:48
As for me, I use DoF as a tool, either because I have to (low light, fast glass) or to isolate a subject from the background for pictorial reasons...



Agreed. It works all ways i.e. soft foreground -> subject -> soft backround

http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/ff86/alistair-o/Autumn%202009/LockedGate.jpg

SimonSawSunlight
04-28-2011, 01:07
a lot of people seem to think that a shot gets better and better with thinner and thinner DOF and more and more blurred background. very unhealthy attitude, photographically, if you ask me. it sometimes seems to be an easy escape from having to deal with proper composition. but I'm not saying the exact opposite is true either, I try to stay away from such generalisations. there are good f1.4-in-daylight shots.

j j
04-28-2011, 01:16
Finally, note 'ill done' and 'for me'. This is always on a case-by-case background, and intensely personal.

If you qualify your statements with "except when done well" then we can all agree. Earlier you seemed to be making your notes using a blunter pencil.

kully
04-28-2011, 01:25
There is bokeh that makes me almost wretch and leaves me with a headache, here is an example: (I took it, so I'm only being horrible to myself)

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2122/2442189145_5253e5276b_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/superkully/2442189145/)

As for shallow DoF vs. the reverse, I agree with Simon and his shots have that great compositional thing going on, but then I look at stuff Yanick (Yanidel) does with shallow DoF and I can't say I like one more than the other, they're just different.

So, I've rather run out of anything intelligent to conclude this post with... mmm...

Should we just take and look at whatever snaps we like and not be told what we should like?

Gabriel M.A.
04-28-2011, 01:26
Why do people have to generalise about techniques that are a matter of personal choice for the person actually taking the photo. Talk about stamping your own opinion on a subject ...

Exactly. While Roger may have a point, specially when clarifying that, like any tool or technique, overuse or misuse just makes a really bad name for it.

HDR is a great tool. Just as is a laser pointer. Or Autotune. Misuse makes you hate them.

Gabriel M.A.
04-28-2011, 01:29
http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1422/1479083461_87f48afb2f.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gabrielma/1479083461/)
Leica M6 + 8.5cm (85mm) f/2 Sonnar Contax mount + Ilford XP2


You just have to learn how to use stuff.

SimonSawSunlight
04-28-2011, 01:30
As for shallow DoF vs. the reverse, I agree with Simon and his shots have that great compositional thing going on, but then I look at stuff Yanick (Yanidel) does with shallow DoF and I can't say I like one more than the other, they're just different.

So, I've rather run out of anything intelligent to conclude this post with... mmm...

Should we just take and look at whatever snaps we like and not be told what we should like?

heh, I was thinking about bringing up Yanick's photography as well, but it seemed to easy a card to play! :D but I think we have to admit that in most of his shots the background is still more or less distinguishable, and he certainly composes his shots rather thoughtfully as well.

Brian Sweeney
04-28-2011, 01:34
Bokeh is the photographic equivalent of using chaos theory to produce computer generated images. The latter is based on the finite precision of digital computers in modeling continuous functions. The Mandelbrot set is probably the most popular example, each pixel represents the number of iterations required for a recursive function to diverge to a preset point.

Bokeh is the result of using bulk optics to project the 3D world onto a plane. The trade-offs for aberrations and optimizations that go into the design of the lens are convolved with the image being projected onto the plane. The most pronounced artifacts are produced in the out of focus background when the lens is used at full-aperture, the focus is at minimum distance, and the background has a lot of high-frequency content.

I did a lot of CGI in the 1980s, and a lot of images with my lenses used at full-aperture, the focus is at minimum distance, and the background with a lot of high-frequency content. But the latter did not overload the power supplies on the FPS120b and cause the HALON in the computer room to discharge.

remembered the footnote... after the FPS120b, my employer bought me an $80K desktop computer with 4 attached SKY array processors to continue doing the fractal work for CGI.

Gabriel M.A.
04-28-2011, 01:39
a lot of people seem to think that a shot gets better and better with thinner and thinner DOF and more and more blurred background. very unhealthy attitude, photographically, if you ask me. it sometimes seems to be an easy escape from having to deal with proper composition. but I'm not saying the exact opposite is true either, I try to stay away from such generalisations. there are good f1.4-in-daylight shots.

Like everything, it depends on your point of view. I believe that it requires far better concentration on technique and composition to be able to pull of a narrow DOF shot.

Most people want to see everything. Putting everything in focus is the expected thing. Making things stand out as you intend them is far more difficult with a wider aperture at close distance than otherwise. That many people have overutilized and erroneously overdone narrow DOF does make one prone to generalize, but even more rare is to see people caution themselves out of generalizations. Like you stated. ::thumbs up::

Roger Hicks
04-28-2011, 01:55
Like everything, it depends on your point of view. I believe that it requires far better concentration on technique and composition to be able to pull off a narrow DOF shot.

Most people want to see everything. Putting everything in focus is the expected thing. Making things stand out as you intend them is far more difficult with a wider aperture at close distance than otherwise. That many people have overutilized and erroneously overdone narrow DOF does make one prone to generalize, but even more rare is to see people caution themselves out of generalizations. Like you stated. ::thumbs up::

Yes, I think that's true. But maybe, at this point, it comes down to a restatement of Sturgeon's Law (Someone said to Sturgeon, "90% of science fiction is rubbish", to which Sturgeon replied "90% of anything is rubbish"). Perhaps badly-done shallow d-o-f shots in broad daylight are just a form of rubbish to which I am particularly sensitive, and perhaps the reason that I am unusually sensitive is that they have become much more popular of late. They used to be quite difficult, because of limited shutter speeds and because fewer people could afford super-speed lenses, and they were therefore rare. "Because I can" (use a fast lens wide open with a very high shutter speeed) is not the same as "because I can" (compose a decent picture using this technique).

As I say in the original post, more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.

The key word is noticing. From the responses to this thread, it looks as though this is merely an over-used fad, like HDR: both shallow d-o-f and HDR can be done really well, but often aren't. Personally I find HDR much less of a problem than shallow d-o-f, possibly because a great deal of painting has always been 'HDR', with far more detail in the shadows than is easily possible in non-HDR photography.

Cheers,

R.

Gabriel M.A.
04-28-2011, 01:57
Did I type "pull of"? Oh, la honte!

Roger Hicks
04-28-2011, 02:01
Did I type "pull of"? Oh, la honte!

Blame it on a lousy keyboard. Yes, I'm a bad typist, but on top of that, my keyboard doesn't always register every key I hit.

Cheers,

R.

gekopaca
04-28-2011, 02:02
Dear Roger,
As is my habit, I try to think about pictures in terms of meaning, for me it is more important than the aesthetic way.

On the one hand, the current fashion of "always bokeh" joins the way of Flickr always greater aestheticization pictures... at the expense of semantic content.
Actually, Flickr also shows us a large majority of poor framing, simplistic angles shooting, photos without a subject, horrible post-treatment...
Disasters are numerous, the challenge is education to the image, it's a cultural problem, of course.

On the other hand, the ability to isolate the main subject of the background (with the help of modern fast lenses, ND filters and/or high speeds) even when the daylight is strong is a useful tool for the clever photographer; why be deprived of that opportunity?

Roger Hicks
04-28-2011, 02:11
Dear Roger,
As is my habit, I try to think about pictures in terms of meaning, for me it is more important than the aesthetic way.

On the one hand, the current fashion of "always bokeh" joins the way of Flickr always greater aestheticization pictures... at the expense of semantic content.
Actually, Flickr also shows us a large majority of poor framing, simplistic angles shooting, photos without a subject, horrible post-treatment...
Disasters are numerous, the challenge is education to the image, it's a cultural problem, of course.

On the other hand, the ability to isolate the main subject of the background (with the help of modern fast lenses, ND filters and/or high speeds) even when the daylight is strong is a useful tool for the clever photographer; why be deprived of that opportunity?

I'm not advocating depriving anyone of it, or of any other tool. It just seems to me that at the moment, more people are using this particular tool badly than has been the case in the past: 'because they can'.

I completely agree with your separation of 'meaning' and 'aesthetics', and would add that at most periods in history there is an 'aesthetic of novelty'. All too often, this is immediately seized upon and turned into a cliché by wannabees, thereby detracting even from the pics where it is done well: the reaction is, "Oh, no, not that again." Ultra-shallow d-o-f is merely one current example.

Cheers,

R.

Griffin
04-28-2011, 02:34
One might even be able say the opposite - because of the number of photos taken with small sensor cameras these days too many photos have every thing in focus.

Couldn't agree more. Coming from a point and shoot, my sole aim atm is to have selective focus. I'm sure I'll grow out of it one day.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 03:50
I'm not advocating depriving anyone of it, or of any other tool. It just seems to me that at the moment, more people are using this particular tool badly than has been the case in the past: 'because they can'

More people are doing photography badly these days too. I actually am a fan of the type of images you do not like. I like recognizing things in the background while isolating the main subject. One man's junk is another's treasure...

I guess you hate this then...

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5189/5658266584_eab38005e2_z.jpg

Sure, it looks like it's a projection in the background. I like it nonetheless or I wouldn't have taken it that way. The Sonnar acts different wide open and at 5.6. Why wouldn't I use it both ways? I guess I'm a wannabee because I choose to use all of photography's "tricks." ;)

taskoni
04-28-2011, 04:04
Well, the photo above is a good example that everything is a matter of taste...
To me, if I may comment on the photo, the BG is still too busy and doesn't make the model to stand out much - I would of pan more left where the BG looks more promising or shoot her in portrait mode...

On topic now: I usually check the background first and then decide what aperture to use - I noticed that in many cases the sharp background can bring to the picture an establishment rather than OOF background with hard shapes that distracts even more. If/when I shoot wide open I like to go really close or because of the available light.
It's all personal :)
Regards,
b.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 04:09
Well, the picture above is a good example that everything is a matter of taste...
To me, the BG is still too busy and doesn't make the model to stand out much - I would of pan more left where the BG looks more promising or shoot her in portrait mode...

Exactly...taste. That is wide open at 1.5. Not sure how much more I can get things OOF. I wanted the barn in the background...that was my choice. Luckily, the "model" (haha) is my GF so this is just one photo of many.

Matus
04-28-2011, 04:15
I think that the thin DOF is more than just a tool that often gets misused. It is also becoming a way to tell digital P&S and small sensor-slow-zoom-lens crowd from true photographers who either shoot film or large sensor cameras with expensive fast lens :angel: :p

taskoni
04-28-2011, 04:28
http://img215.imageshack.us/img215/2818/18030310150106661033588.jpg

I like it that way if it has to be wide open - Summilux-R 1.4 wide open :)

Regards,
b.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 04:38
See, and to me that doesn't have enough context. To each his own... thankfully we do not all think alike.

igi
04-28-2011, 04:42
I don't have an idea why some are calling the technique "misused"...

Who the guides the usage of the technique? The aesthetics of the audience or the intent of the creator?

It can never be misused. Just a fad.;)

taskoni
04-28-2011, 04:50
See, and to me that doesn't have enough context. To each his own... thankfully we do not all think alike.

I agree, that's why I posted a shot :)

It doesn't have context indeed, just stressed on what I found important in the picture and made sure the background will render the way I wanted, not just gray and boring DOF

Regards,
b.

Instantclassic
04-28-2011, 04:54
I think we should ban middle- and large format cameras. At least force people to use tripods and make the objects stand still so we do not get blurred pictures of the objects per se. :(

Mr f/22

Brian Sweeney
04-28-2011, 05:08
I'm cleaning out some space at work and found a 20 year old folder full of CGI and "Scientific Visualization" on Dye Sub prints. Wrote my own Color Postscript driver in FORTRAN. Ahhh. The good old days.

tlitody
04-28-2011, 05:16
If more people are doing bad photography these days its probably because there are a lot more people doing photography. But as has been pointed out, a lot of these digital cameras used cropped sensors and not especially wide apertures. So where are all these bad bokeh shots and who is producing them? Is it just RFF members? If it is a problem, then I suspect that it's laziness. i.e. just open to widest and take some pictures instead of working out what you want in focus and what not and using the dof scale on lens to work out correct aperture for the effect. But that might present a problem for people using zoom or auto focus lenses that are not well marked, if at all, with dof scales. So again, its just easier for them to open wide and not think about it too much. Result equals very blurry backgrounds.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 05:35
Is it just RFF members? If it is a problem, then I suspect that it's laziness. i.e. just open to widest and take some pictures instead of working out what you want in focus and what not and using the dof scale on lens to work out correct aperture for the effect.

Actually I think you have to think more when using your lens wide open... and be more carefully and make more defined decisions. Not that making a great photo with shallow or deep depth of field is easy ever.

So again, its just easier for them to open wide and not think about it too much. Result equals very blurry backgrounds.

It is a choice... why is that so hard to accept? It is one more tool for you to use when making decsions that will affect your photos...

Using deep depth of field can be even lazier. Just set it and forget it. To me there is no wrong way to make photos... what matters to most people (except photo geeks) is the photo, not how it was made.

wilonstott
04-28-2011, 05:36
Like you Roger, I feel like the effect is approaching cliché.
Seems to be a fashion/portrait studio nouveau thing.

Again, not to be rude or point fingers, but this somewhat prominent street fashion blog, I believe, illustrates the effect that Roger is refering to.

http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/

Not all of his photos are like this, only the vast majority.

Daytime Bokeh is now code for professional--for better or for worse, I can't decide.

Albeit I do hate most all visual clichés. So there's that in roundabout implication.

GSNfan
04-28-2011, 05:40
The reason PJs resorted to 'isolating' the subject from the background, had to do with the fact that they had no control over the background... You isolate the subject if the background is ugly, wrong color/contrast etc... you just don't 'kill' the background because of some optical effect every time and time and again.

When you're going to shoot lets say a portrait, get the subject to a pleasing background and add that to the picture for even better results, but that requires visualization and knowing how backgrounds work.

tlitody
04-28-2011, 05:46
Actually I think you have to think more when using your lens wide open... and be more carefully and make more defined decisions. Not that making a great photo with shallow or deep depth of field is easy ever.



It is a choice... why is that so hard to accept? It is one more tool for you to use when making decsions that will affect your photos...

Using deep depth of field can be even lazier. Just set it and forget it. To me there is no wrong way to make photos... what matters to most people (except photo geeks) is the photo, not how it was made.

Do you miss my point? Not sure. What I'm saying is that with a subject far enough from its background, then maybe f5.6 is sufficient to give you a slight blurred background depending on how far you are from the main subject. But with an autofocus zoom which a lot of people use, how are you going to work out what is actually the optimum aperture for dof effect you want unless you have it stored in your head. The lens barrel tells you nothing on these auto focus zooms and dof preview really doesn't show anything accurately on a viewing screen. Its just laziness to then say, sod it, I'll shoot wide open for bokeh effect. i.e. people just think, and I'm speculating here, that if you want bokeh you shoot wide open and be done with it.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 05:47
Again, not to be rude or point fingers, but this somewhat prominent street fashion blog, I believe, illustrates the effect that Roger is refering to.

http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/

Not all of his photos are like this, only the vast majority.

Perhaps it is because the focus is on the clothes? :rolleyes:

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 05:55
Do you miss my point? Not sure. What I'm saying is that with a subject far enough from its background, then maybe f5.6 is sufficient to give you a slight blurred background depending on how far you are from the main subject. But with an autofocus zoom which a lot of people use, how are you going to work out what is actually the optimum aperture for dof effect you want unless you have it stored in your head.

I didn't miss your point. I think you are assuming that everyone who uses a DSLR is stupid. If you use a camera enough (and care to learn), you know how it reacts at every aperture....regardless as to if your lens has a proper depth of field scale. If you are using a 28mm lens, 5.6 isn't going to give you that much isolation.

Its just laziness to then say, sod it, I'll shoot wide open for bokeh effect. i.e. people just think, and I'm speculating here, that if you want bokeh you shoot wide open and be done with it.

But it is a choice, not laziness. How's it any different than saying I want everything to be in focus so I'll shoot at f/11? Laziness is going fully automatic and having your camera make choices for you (regardless of what your want your photo to look like).

hipsterdufus
04-28-2011, 05:58
Perhaps it is because the focus is on the clothes? :rolleyes:

I was wondering about that as well... What's the purpose of having the background in focus if it does nothing to add to the photo? In fact, leaving the background in focus in these shots would distract from the main subject (the model/clothing).

I was always taught that you want to do whatever you can to emphasize the subject of your photos and subtract distracting elements. Selective focus is a great way to minimize these elements.

I guess to each their own...

wilonstott
04-28-2011, 06:19
I was wondering about that as well... What's the purpose of having the background in focus if it does nothing to add to the photo? In fact, leaving the background in focus in these shots would distract from the main subject (the model/clothing).

I was always taught that you want to do whatever you can to emphasize the subject of your photos and subtract distracting elements. Selective focus is a great way to minimize these elements.

I guess to each their own...

First, let me say, you are right, and your photographic education was not a vain lie.


I'm not saying I hate it.
I simply think it's cliche.

I'm not saying that it serves no purpose.

It's a fashion (gloss "sartorial") blog--obviously the focal point is the clothes, you clever lot.

The guy doesn't vary his style--which is cool for him.

I'm offering an example here, and implying that the style seems a bit stagnant, but not without purpose.

I offer no further criticism.

shadowfox
04-28-2011, 06:39
I think we should ban middle- and large format cameras. At least force people to use tripods and make the objects stand still so we do not get blurred pictures of the objects per se. :(

Mr f/22

Thank you.
That is exactly what I thought when I read Roger's original post.

Although, knowing that Roger shoots Large format himself, I think I'm still missing what he meant by 'sickly' bokeh.

Almost all of the examples in this thread do not make me the least bit sickly, some are actually quite lovely :)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3540/3887531785_b0444f65e1_z.jpg?zz=1


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3493/3746436912_ee8aa2232f_z.jpg?zz=1

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 06:42
Most non-photographers don't think about bokeh. It's used in movies so much that it just seems normal.

tlitody
04-28-2011, 06:44
I think you are assuming that everyone who uses a DSLR is stupid.

No I don't assume anyone is stupid until they show me they are. I assume that some know what they are doing whereas some don't. And some think think they know what they are doing when they don't. And some know but take short cuts or don't have time to think about it. And some that know are lazy and aren't too worried about it.
This apllies to any type of camera user not just dslr. But its easier with a prime manual focus lens and dof scale to learn and/or check what you are doing.

igi
04-28-2011, 07:00
To answer Roger's question, yes it must have been due to technology's march which then was explored by countless pro photographers and later snapped up by the masses.

Yup, it's just normal.

Vics
04-28-2011, 07:09
Ive noticed that when folks buy fast lenses, it's not to get better focusing, or brighter finder in an SLR, the way it was when I started. I think that their photos are concerned only with their fast lens. Here and on flickr, you can see hundreds of pictures of a sharp twig in the close foreground and everything else blurred out. It's self-referential photography.

jsrockit
04-28-2011, 07:22
Ive noticed that when folks buy fast lenses, it's not to get better focusing, or brighter finder in an SLR, the way it was when I started.

Well those things do not apply to rangefinders.

I've always bought fast lenses in order to make photos in more situations and to have more depth of field options.

yanidel
04-28-2011, 10:22
heh, I was thinking about bringing up Yanick's photography as well, but it seemed to easy a card to play! :D but I think we have to admit that in most of his shots the background is still more or less distinguishable, and he certainly composes his shots rather thoughtfully as well.
Thanks Simon and Kully to have thought about me on this shallow depth of field topic ;)

Here is my take on it. I compose exactly the same whether I shoot with thin DOF or smaller apertures. OOF does not compensate for bad composition in the background, be it in terms of shapes, colors or movement. It can save you from grins, closed eyes or unwanted signs, but apart from that OOF should be in harmony with the in focus zone. Good bokeh will never make up for a badly composed shot.
Personally, I don't use it as an effect, but try to reproduce our selective memory. Think about a moment in your life, do you remember specific items in focus, that is a smile, big eyes ... lips ? Or do you recall every single detail of a scene you experienced ?

Roger Hicks
04-28-2011, 11:37
Thanks Simon and Kully to have thought about me on this shallow depth of field topic ;)

Here is my take on it. I compose exactly the same whether I shoot with thin DOF or smaller apertures. OOF does not compensate for bad composition in the background, be it in terms of shapes, colors or movement. It can save you from grins, closed eyes or unwanted signs, but apart from that OOF should be in harmony with the in focus zone. Good bokeh will never make up for a badly composed shot.
Personally, I don't use it as an effect, but try to reproduce our selective memory. Think about a moment in your life, do you remember specific items in focus, that is a smile, big eyes ... lips ? Or do you recall every single detail of a scene you experienced ?

Brilliant. Thanks.

Cheers,

R.

rogerzilla
04-30-2011, 00:48
I have no problem with shallow DOF to focus (sorry) attention on the subject - it's part of the Leica style. The problem is, and I think what Roger means, that some photos are neither one thing nor the other; the background is only slightly OOF and it looks as if the thing was shot on auto-aperture (which, on non-Leica cameras, it may well have been).

As an aside, shallow DOF is one way to say "Look Mum, not digital!" since 99.9% of digital cameras sold have slow lenses and sensors smaller than 35mm size and virtually everything is in focus, all the time.

Gabriel M.A.
04-30-2011, 01:05
Like you Roger, I feel like the effect is approaching cliché.
Seems to be a fashion/portrait studio nouveau thing.


http://www.old-picture.com/crimean-war/000/pictures/Photography-Wagon-001.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/crimean-war/000/Photography-Wagon-001.htm)
Photography Wagon (during the Crimean War)



http://www.old-picture.com/mathew-brady-studio/pictures/Captain-Moore-001.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/mathew-brady-studio/Captain-Moore-John-M.htm)
Captain John M. Moore, 1865, portrait studio nouveau victim.



Albeit I do hate most all visual clichés. So there's that in roundabout implication.
"Everything in focus" is such a cliché, it's been tried for over a century and it just keeps on going. Well, everything done before the instant we read this has already been done. Even 3D photographs.

Gabriel M.A.
04-30-2011, 01:13
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2311/2489948459_05ac0f27af.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/2489948459/)

Seems like the DeleteMe flickr group weighed in and decided to save this all-in-sharp-focus shot.

Gabriel M.A.
04-30-2011, 01:20
Thanks Simon and Kully to have thought about me on this shallow depth of field topic ;)

Here is my take on it. I compose exactly the same whether I shoot with thin DOF or smaller apertures. OOF does not compensate for bad composition in the background, be it in terms of shapes, colors or movement. It can save you from grins, closed eyes or unwanted signs, but apart from that OOF should be in harmony with the in focus zone. Good bokeh will never make up for a badly composed shot.
Personally, I don't use it as an effect, but try to reproduce our selective memory. Think about a moment in your life, do you remember specific items in focus, that is a smile, big eyes ... lips ? Or do you recall every single detail of a scene you experienced ?


There are some narrowly-focused (oh the irony) people who dismiss a technique simply because either they don't like it, they don't do it, or they can't do it. Their distaste often (btw, others: please read carefully for nuances, don't go all if-you're-not-with-us-you're-against-us black-and-whiteness) --often-- translates into calling out names or judgment.

Take grammar and misspelling, for example: many people on the Intertoobes do it. It would be really silly to say "nobody on the Internet knows how to write". Or take the "logic" farther by saying "the Internet makes you illiterate; I mean, just read all of this stuff!"

While Roger is stating an opinion (and qualifies his statements), others just take a comment and go around with superlatives. But how do you work against superlatives? By superlatively re-stating their Superlativity (™)


Anyway...where was I? Ah, yes: just 'cause I don't like Wendy's hamburgers it doesn't mean that all cows suck.

paparazzi mano
04-30-2011, 02:03
Tim,

I like the space 'tween the doggies and the plane. Kinda adds a story....... kinda like its longing to see someone that it hasn't seen for a long time.

Like it!

At the risk of setting myself up for ridicule, I'll put up an example here that may be the sort of thing you are talking about. The background here is obviously not blurred to oblivion. And definitely not in focus.
This was very intentional on my part - feeling that the background maintained enough focus to make it clear what the object in the distance is.
This was part of a small documentary project I did on the refurbishment of an old WWII-era bomber. And this is Mitchell, the hangar dog.

It was a muddy, rainy, overcast day. But I suspect there was room to get more in focus if I wanted to. If anything, I wish I'd gotten a lower perspective to cut some of the dead space between the dog and the plane, but I like the focus just the way it is.


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3263/2903320001_06ab456b01_z.jpg

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 02:14
. ........ EDIT .......


"Everything in focus" is such a cliché, it's been tried for over a century and it just keeps on going. Well, everything done before the instant we read this has already been done. Even 3D photographs.

So true, even today, why, oh why, don't we ever get any new clichés?

alistair.o
04-30-2011, 02:20
.

So true, even today, why, oh why, don't we ever get any new clichés?

Good old Samual Goldwyn.

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 02:22
Good old Samual Goldwyn.

... was it? I thought I'd made it up! ... and I nicked the first bit from Round the Horn

gavinlg
04-30-2011, 02:25
If only every shot with an out of focus background could be replaced with a shot of a mailbox or a random street scene at f11 - then photography would be saved. If everyone was a street photographer we could have a mind blowing monopoly of every person on flickr posting pictures of people taking pictures who would be posting the pictures he took of people taking pictures ∞.

Brian Sweeney
04-30-2011, 04:25
The field of Photography is big enough to accommodate many styles, and individuals will like some and dislike others. If this were a forum on Painting, the same argument would be on impressionism vs realism.

Damn good thing this is not a forum on painting because I would have to make my own brushes and align the bristles within 0.02mm of each other. Someone would use a brush made for canvas on charcoal drawing paper and everything would backfocus.

Brian Sweeney
04-30-2011, 05:02
http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/565/azalia_f15.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2315&title=azalia-f15&cat=565)

Impressionism, Realism, whatever. I nailed the focus on that lens to the last 0.02mm.

I am very, very, deep and give these issues the proper level of consideration that they deserve.

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 05:12
I rather think all these random bits of flora isolated by a jumble of blurry abstractions is more likely proving Roger's original contention, than challenging it ...

Brian Sweeney
04-30-2011, 05:23
My point is "who cares". Some people like it, others don't.

Individuals are free to like what they want, and others get annoyed when they are told that they should not like it.

So reading this thread, I think it proves my point.

And the picture proves I nailed the shim on that lens to the last 0.02mm. Nothing else.

sanmich
04-30-2011, 06:34
How I learned to stop worrying and love the bokeh...



Dr Strangelove eh? :)

sanmich
04-30-2011, 06:39
Roger,
I want to make sure what your remark is because If I got it right, I find it very interesting:
Are you saying that since in real life our eyes, in bright daylight have closed iris, we are used to sctually see with a huge DOF, and therefore, using a Noctilux at full bore with very bright and even harsh sunlight gives an artificial look to the pictures?
Maybe in the same sense HDR looks artificial?
Is that it?

lynnb
04-30-2011, 07:22
Personally, I don't use it as an effect, but try to reproduce our selective memory. Think about a moment in your life, do you remember specific items in focus, that is a smile, big eyes ... lips ? Or do you recall every single detail of a scene you experienced ?
Couldn't agree more. My memory of something is the result of significant post processing by my hippocampus. It selectively sharpens things of interest to me and blurs things that don't matter into a nice creamy bokeh. Then it compresses all that into memory storage, dropping out any detail deemed unnecessary. The cranial equivalent of a JPEG.

I think film users are more likely to be very familiar with the DOF characteristics of their lenses at different apertures and focus distances than digital users. RF users generally use lenses with accurate focus and DOF scales. Non-auto film SLRs with focusing screens optimised for clarity also encouraged use of DOF preview - judging DOF through my OM1's vf was comparatively easy, even at smaller apertures.

It's a different story with digital. Camera/lens automation in digital cameras gets in the way of bokeh control. The focusing screens in modern DSLRs seem to be optimised for viewfinder brightness rather than clarity and stop-down visual estimation DOF is more difficult - particularly with crop sensor mirrored viewfinders. That probably encourages shooting at full aperture more often than not, when shooting for shallow DOF. Even the DOF preview button on my 5D is tiny and harder to use than the DOF preview controls on my film Nikons. Another digital disadvantage is that most made-for-digital lenses have coarse motor-driven autofocus, making the DOF scale next to useless (e.g. look at an EF 50/1.4's DOF scale), or don't have a DOF scale at all. Do EVF cameras or the hybrid X100 make it easy to accurately preview DOF? Does LCD/viewfinder signal processing/auto-gain help?

If the tools that most people use (and increasingly that means digital bodies and designed-for-autofocus lenses) make it harder to estimate DOF and harder to judge the quality of DOF outside the plane of focus I'm not surprised if things are sometimes rendered strangely.

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 07:24
Roger,
I want to make sure what your remark is because If I got it right, I find it very interesting:
Are you saying that since in real life our eyes, in bright daylight have closed iris, we are used to actually see with a huge DOF, and therefore, using a Noctilux at full bore with very bright and even harsh sunlight gives an artificial look to the pictures?
Maybe in the same sense HDR looks artificial?
Is that it?

Partly that, but partly, and rather more, that our eyes automatically refocus as we glance at something new. In other words, we are very seldom aware of out-of-focus areas in the real world.

A successful picture with an out of focus background replicates our normal "I'm looking at this, so I don't care about that" mind-set, or (as in the case of the dog and the aeroplane) replicates the awareness of the background as if we were concentrating on the foreground. An unsuccessful one forces the background on our attention in a way we never see in real life.

The fact that we never see something in real life doesn't necessarily matter, which was really the origin of this thread: I asked in the first post whether we are now seeing more badly-done and unnatural-looking shallow d-o-f shots around in bright light. I also asked whether it was mere habituation on my part that I dislike so many of them, because it's not what I'm used to.

As Gabriel has pointed out, the immediate reaction from some appeared to be absolutism -- a belief that I was saying that all such shots are bad, or (worse still) that shallow d-o-f is always bad in all circumstances, which is far from what I said -- together with a good deal of restating the plain and obvious truth that taste is personal and cannot be disputed.

A few others agree that it does seem to be a fashion, which, like all fashions, tends to be overdone -- but again, this is NOT the same as saying it can never be done well. (I know you're not saying that, but I'm just trying to clarify my stance.)

EDIT: I am rather taken with the arguments in the previous post about exactly how this is equipment driven.

Cheers,

R.

rogerzilla
04-30-2011, 07:27
Could you also add some heavy grain and give those in the pointilism camp some consideration?

Nice shot, BTW.

Ah yes, Konica 3200 and a heavy diffuser.

http://www.peeble.com/konica3200.jpg

semilog
04-30-2011, 08:18
This one made me happy. YMMV.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5308/5650722345_ffd1dcf236_z.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/semilog/5650722345/)
20110424-scan1101 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/semilog/5650722345/) by Semilog (http://www.flickr.com/people/semilog/), on Flickr

sanmich
04-30-2011, 09:16
Agreed

[quote=Roger Hicks;... that I dislike so many of them, because it's not what I'm used to.
.

Maybe most people that concentrate solely on a technique assuming that it's a magic bullet miss the point of a good picture (happens to me all the time to focus too much on something and to shoot crappy pictures because on the same day I'm unable to think out of the box)
In fact I find most "Bokeh shots" boring, no matter if they are take in bright or dim light. I just thought you were adding the "bright light" issue as being unnatural...

Gabriel M.A.
04-30-2011, 10:07
http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/004/pictures/Burroughs-John-002.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/004/Burroughs-John-001.htm)
John Burroughs, portrait nouveau victim, pondering on how boring it all is and ways to make it fun fun fun.

dotur
04-30-2011, 10:09
www.ivanlozica.com (http://www.ivanlozica.com)

Nauseating experiments in selective focus and bokeh should at least be more nature friendly... let's stop molesting innocent flora and fauna, spring blossoms and endangered species like cats deserve better treatment...
Dirty fake flowers, digital shot, fake leica: fake rangefinder Digilux 3 - and CZJ Pancolar 50mm 1.8, ISO 400, 1/640

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5105/5673137474_7114db5108_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotur/5673137474/)
0524dot2011 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotur/5673137474/) by dotur (http://www.flickr.com/people/dotur/), on Flickr

Gabriel M.A.
04-30-2011, 10:10
How deliciously timed.

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 10:52
Maybe most people that concentrate solely on a technique assuming that it's a magic bullet miss the point of a good picture (happens to me all the time to focus too much on something and to shoot crappy pictures because on the same day I'm unable to think out of the box)
In fact I find most "Bokeh shots" boring, no matter if they are take in bright or dim light. I just thought you were adding the "bright light" issue as being unnatural...

I think you have hit upon it exactly. It doesn't matter what the magic bullet is this week. There's ALWAYS a fashionable magic bullet.

And, yes, I did intent to add 'bright light + bokeh' as more than usually unnatural.

Cheers,

R.

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 11:15
How deliciously timed.

... I thought it tasted of chicken myself

Brian Sweeney
04-30-2011, 11:22
Dr Strangelove eh? :)

YES! Love that movie. I was wondering if anyone got the Strangelove connection.

BTW: learned that Mandrake was seated at an IBM 7090 for the movie. I'm thinking that inspired the Hal 9000 in 2001.

SciAggie
04-30-2011, 11:25
Shallow DOF is tricky for me. On the one hand selective focus is nice. It is great to be able to shoot with a higher shutter speed in low light - sometimes that's the difference between having/ not having a usable image. On the other hand, I sometimes think I have a good shot only to discover later that I focused on an eyebrow instead of an eye, or I have one eye in focus and the other not. The more I use fast lenses, the more I seem to rely on f-stops higher than f2 or 2.8; at least with people. Then I wonder why I'm toting around an expensive piece of wonderglass.

Brian Sweeney
04-30-2011, 11:28
I had the Nikkor 10.5cm F2.5 out today on the M9 at Gunston Hall, home of George Mason.

When will people quite waving Red Capes at me like this...

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 12:14
YES! Love that movie. I was wondering if anyone got the Strangelove connection.

BTW: learned that Mandrake was seated at an IBM 7090 for the movie. I'm thinking that inspired the Hal 9000 in 2001.

I'm sorry, Brian, I can't let you do that. This thread is too important...

Cheers,

HAL (Or possibly Roger)

j j
04-30-2011, 12:15
And, yes, I did intent to add 'bright light + bokeh' as more than usually unnatural.

Cheers,

R.

May I ask why?

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 12:21
May I ask why?

Because that's how it looks to me, for reasons stated earlier in the thread. I'm used to seeing quite considerable depth of field in good light. And, again as I asked earlier, is this just me, or do others feel the same way?

EDIT: In other words, I'm asking about how many people think hard about why they use shallow d-o-f, and what conclusions they come to when they've thought about it.

Cheers,

R.

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 12:28
I'm sorry, Brian, I can't let you do that. This thread is too important...

Cheers,

HAL (Or possibly Roger)

he was based in part on one of Max Mathew's synthesisers voices anyway

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 12:31
he was based in part on one of Max Mathew's synthesisers voices anyway

I'm sorry, Stewart...

sanmich
04-30-2011, 12:34
YES! Love that movie. I was wondering if anyone got the Strangelove connection.

BTW: learned that Mandrake was seated at an IBM 7090 for the movie. I'm thinking that inspired the Hal 9000 in 2001.

One of my all time best movies.
A pure, concentrated pill of cynism and crazyness and a great way of looking at the fine, fine idea of anihilating millions of peoples because, of course, they are the enemy.
I can't even start thinking what is my prefered scene...

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 12:37
Oh, we will all go together when we go,
Every Hottentot and every Eskimo.
Universal bereavement, an inspiring achievement...

Any other Tom Lehrer fans here?

Cheers,

R.

jawarden
04-30-2011, 12:43
Granted, the effect is overused a lot, especially if you spend any time on Flickr...

Agree. Flicker is where you can find it. And I think your shot looks great and achieves the aim you were after.

Me, I'm just looking for a dirty and cheap way of taking 'creative looking' shots.

:-)

dof
04-30-2011, 12:45
Any other Tom Lehrer fans here?



Shallow depth-of-field has been the "New Math" for long enough I say!

NLewis
04-30-2011, 12:48
I get at what Roger is talking about. In the end, I think it is a matter of poor use of OOF areas. I would call these (shot on a Noctilux with ND filter) examples of aesthetically uncomfortable OOF in bright daylight:

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/new14.jpg

http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/new11.jpg

I would call these aesthetically pleasing use of OOF in daylight:

http://laurencekim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/07.jpg

http://laurencekim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/021.jpg

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 13:00
I've seen plenty worse, but thanks very much indeed for having the cojones to put them up. Thery are exactly the kind of thing I meant. I also think that they probably look better in colour than in B+W. In mono they'd be a totally unsuccessful attempt at a 'classic' look.

I certainly agree about the success of the last two (bridge and beach), but no. 3 (twigs) is something I've failed at often enough myself that I regard it as just another damn' shallow d-o-f shot. Not unpleasant: just nowhere near the class of the last two.

Cheers,

R.

jawarden
04-30-2011, 13:02
Partly that, but partly, and rather more, that our eyes automatically refocus as we glance at something new. In other words, we are very seldom aware of out-of-focus areas in the real world.


Some aren't aware of it but it's sure there. About the only thing that is in focus (with our eyes) on a bright sunny day is what we're focusing on, which is a small part of the visual field. It's just that we can adjust so quickly as our eyes wander that it seems everything is in correct focus, when in reality it's not.

What I don't like about selective focus is that when it's done aggressively my eye is dissuaded from exploring the picture. If only the head of a pin is in focus and everything else is a colorful mush, I look at the image for a quarter second and move on.

But when it's done well it's done well. I don't think overuse of selective focus is a big problem really. It certainly pales in comparison to the overuse a myriad of software tweaks most photogs use to ruin their images these days.

:p

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 13:07
Some aren't aware of it but it's sure there. About the only thing that is in focus (with our eyes) on a bright sunny day is what we're focusing on, which is a small part of the visual field. It's just that we can adjust so quickly as our eyes wander that it seems everything is in correct focus, when in reality it's not.

What I don't like about selective focus is that when it's done aggressively my eye is dissuaded from exploring the picture. If only the head of a pin is in focus and everything else is a colorful mush, I look at the image for a quarter second and move on.

But when it's done well it's done well. I don't think overuse of selective focus is a big problem really. It certainly pales in comparison to the overuse a myriad of software tweaks most photogs use to ruin their images these days.

:p

YES! The subject in focus must be interesting enough, and the out-of-focus bit UNinteresting enough, that it reflects the normal psychology of how we look at things.

But I must be less sensitive to overdone software than you are -- or maybe I just look at pictures in different places.

Cheers,

R.

j j
04-30-2011, 13:12
Because that's how it looks to me, for reasons stated earlier in the thread. I'm used to seeing quite considerable depth of field in good light. And, again as I asked earlier, is this just me, or do others feel the same way?

EDIT: In other words, I'm asking about how many people think hard about why they use shallow d-o-f, and what conclusions they come to when they've thought about it.

Cheers,

R.

Maybe I missed an explanation somewhere, but what I did not follow was why shallow focus should be dubious in bright light and not in darker conditions. If it is because you find this disturbing as it does not fit with your previous experience, I suggest that shows that the effect is challenging (which I would consider a positive notion) rather than ineffective.

I see more of it now than before. I think it is partly a meme. We live in an age of effective communication where fashions travel fast and far.

I also think it is a matter of equipment. People have greater access to more equipment and use it more imaginatively than only a few years ago; for example, how many film users used to fit so many and various lenses from so many and various manufacturers on their cameras?

And modern equipment is well suited to experimenting with shallow focus (indeed, it suits experimentation full stop). High resolution sensors and screens show off the effect very well and better than on film and in prints.

I do not see that shallow focus is a sign of laziness, lack of technique, failings of imagination or equipment and so on. Actually, quite the reverse. Fewer people are now tied to the ideas that wide apertures are to get around a lack of light and smaller apertures a desirable luxury to be used whenever conditions allow.

In short, I reckon that people do it intentionally because they like it and I suspect you like it less because it is not your style and experience.

Sparrow
04-30-2011, 13:14
I'm sorry, Stewart...

HAL was in part conceived following a visit by A C Clark to MIT where he heard one of Max Mathew's early synthesisers singing nursery-rhymes ... sadly Max Mathew's died recently

semilog
04-30-2011, 13:51
@ NLewis — Carkeek Park, Seattle. One of my favorite places to shoot.

Roger Hicks
04-30-2011, 14:13
Maybe I missed an explanation somewhere, but what I did not follow was why shallow focus should be dubious in bright light and not in darker conditions. If it is because you find this disturbing as it does not fit with your previous experience, I suggest that shows that the effect is challenging (which I would consider a positive notion) rather than ineffective.

I see more of it now than before. I think it is partly a meme. We live in an age of effective communication where fashions travel fast and far.

I also think it is a matter of equipment. People have greater access to more equipment and use it more imaginatively than only a few years ago; for example, how many film users used to fit so many and various lenses from so many and various manufacturers on their cameras?

And modern equipment is well suited to experimenting with shallow focus (indeed, it suits experimentation full stop). High resolution sensors and screens show off the effect very well and better than on film and in prints.

I do not see that shallow focus is a sign of laziness, lack of technique, failings of imagination or equipment and so on. Actually, quite the reverse. Fewer people are now tied to the ideas that wide apertures are to get around a lack of light and smaller apertures a desirable luxury to be used whenever conditions allow.

In short, I reckon that people do it intentionally because they like it and I suspect you like it less because it is not your style and experience.

Ah... To my mind, as applied to art, this is the classic omitted middle: good new art is often unfamiliar and challenges preconceptions, therefore, anything that is unfamiliar and challenges preconceptions is good new art. Which is of course nonsense.

What I'm suggesting that the current rash of shallow d-o-f shots in good light isn't unfamiliar. It's all too familiar. When it was genuinely new, a few people exploited it to very good effect. But it's very hard to do well (I know: I tried 20 years ago with an f/1.2 Canon and an ND filter), and as executed by all too many people today it is indeed jumping onto a bandwagon that is already well on its way out of town. Yes, it can be done well. Yes, it can be striking. Unfortunately the two are not the same thing.

I'm also suggesting that when composed with conflicting visual clues (strong shadows, sun high in the sky, plus extremely shallow depth of field), the picture has to be VERY good to be effective: mere novelty won't cut it, especially when it isn't novel.

A great deal of our visual vocabulary is learned. Perspective, especially vanishing-point perspective, is an excellent example. So to rephrase my orginal question, how much of the current wave of very shallow d-o-f shots in broad daylight is part of learning a new visual vocabulary (some, no doubt) and how much of it is me-too photography?

If you don't like the phrase 'me-too photography', consider that we almost all try new tricks when we see them, and sometimes we're proud of pics. Other times, we have to admit that we've failed.

Again, I'll repeat that there are plenty of good shallow d-o-f shots, under all kinds of lighting conditions. But it seems to me that right at the moment, there is a very high proportion of shallow d-o-f shots that are taken and disseminated for no better reason than that it is a (declining) fashion.

Cheers,

R.

tlitody
04-30-2011, 14:35
HAL was in part conceived following a visit by A C Clark to MIT where he heard one of Max Mathew's early synthesisers singing nursery-rhymes ... sadly Max Mathew's died recently
I thought HAL was a left character shift.

Thardy
04-30-2011, 15:53
I'm not sure what this whole discussion is about. Many photos in PDN have this look, and so do photos in B&W Magazine. The only difference is that in PDN the photos were taken a few weeks - months ago and examples in B&W were in 1950.

j j
04-30-2011, 16:18
Roger

I missed how you got from "I dislike so many of them, because it's not what I'm used to" to "the current rash of shallow d-o-f shots in good light isn't unfamiliar. It's all too familiar."

With a list of descriptors that includes sickly, nauseating, contrived, artificial, awful, grossly incompetent, overused, rash, cliche and wannabees this style seems to have got under your skin. Adding the general qualifier except for the good ones hardly seems to counter the hyperbole.

And (again) where is the conflict between bright light and shallow focus? I do not get this even a little. The only conflict seems to be with a rule you made up. But, please do explain if I am missing something.

So, in answer to your original question I think neither habituation nor a short-lived fashion but just a style you do not like.

John

NLewis
04-30-2011, 17:16
I certainly agree about the success of the last two (bridge and beach), but no. 3 (twigs) is something I've failed at often enough myself that I regard it as just another damn' shallow d-o-f shot. Not unpleasant: just nowhere near the class of the last two.

Cheers,

R.

The sticks and the girl on the bridge are actually one jpeg, that's why the sticks are in there. I agree, it is a throwaway shot by itself.

The second set of photos are shot on a Contax 645 at f/2.

sanmich
04-30-2011, 19:13
I would call these aesthetically pleasing use of OOF in daylight:



http://laurencekim.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/021.jpg

You are on the spot about the others (very nice shots BTW), but don't you think this one could have much more in focus background?
The far scene is clean enough and doesn't interfere with the subject.
Blured, it does detract from the general feeling (IMHO of course)

filmtwit
04-30-2011, 19:59
Does this work for super duper out of focus back ground?

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5109/5652319733_f63eb5d000.jpg

rogerzilla
04-30-2011, 22:45
The technique looks more natural for subjects closer than a couple of metres, because that's when the human eye also blurs the background.

On the other hand, if we wanted "natural", we'd all be shooting in colour and specifying print viewing distances based on the focal length of the lens used.

Gabriel M.A.
05-01-2011, 00:57
Any other Tom Lehrer fans here?

It's hardly ever National Brotherhood Week 'round these parts.

Gabriel M.A.
05-01-2011, 00:59
... I thought it tasted of chicken myself

Funny, I usually think these "I can't stand --insert term here--" threads usually bring out the people who think that everything tastes like chicken, so it's pointless to cook something other than chicken, because, I mean, it's boring and dumb and pointless. Understandable, if their tastebuds can only register chicken.

Sparrow
05-01-2011, 01:03
... one mans' fish ... as they say

Gabriel M.A.
05-01-2011, 01:09
... one mans' fish ... as they say

Mmm...fish...now you're talkin'

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 04:24
WWTLD... What would Tom Lehrer Do.

Bokeh.

They are teaching Bokeh in all of the fine-arts Photography schools.

I never learned about Bokeh with my Instamatic.

Good Bokeh Lens.

A Good Bokeh Lens is just like a regular lens.

Except all the aperture blades are missing.

I wrote a little song about it.

Oh.. You can't stop down to F8 because the DUFF would push past the F4 marks...

The F4 marks...

Why can't you push the DUFF past the F4 marks...

Because the picture would be in focus.

And that would not be Bokeh.

Bo-Keh... Bo-Keh... You just can't take a sharp picture with it!

Keith
05-01-2011, 04:37
I just thought I'd check in on this thread to see how it was going having been away from the silicon brain for a day and a half.

I'm off to poison some pigeons in the park!

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 04:39
So Long MOM, I'm Off to drop the Bomb
So don't you wait up for me.

Dropping the Bokeh just did not work like it did with Dr. Strangelove.

But I expect a lot of Bokeh shots of those Pigeons, taken at F1.2

I'm off to PICTURE some pigeons in the park.

Keith
05-01-2011, 04:43
Except for the ones I take home for experiments of course! :D

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 04:45
I just had an image in my mind of Bob Newhart teaching a course in Photography by videoteleconference.

You opened up TOO FAST Mrs Webb.

Roger Hicks
05-01-2011, 08:05
... one mans' fish ... as they say

For those unaware of the other half, perhaps I ought to add that one man's fish is another man's poisson.

Cheers,

R.

alistair.o
05-01-2011, 08:10
For those unaware of the other half, perhaps I ought to add that one man's fish is another man's poisson.

Cheers,

R.

That's a shocker!

Sparrow
05-01-2011, 08:54
For those unaware of the other half, perhaps I ought to add that one man's fish is another man's poisson.

Cheers,

R.

As a child it was "one mans' fish is another man's fowl" but then foul was left ambiguous ... deliberately I suspect

dotur
05-01-2011, 09:22
www.ivanlozica.com (http://www.ivanlozica.com)
I knew it. You won't listen. Now you are molesting poultry, fowl, pigeons and fish - and all that for silly bokeh.
It is dangerous to use fast lenses wide open in broad daylight...
A wicked lens can learn how to produce bokeh at any aperture!

Digilux 3, CZJ Pancolar 50mm, ISO 400, f 22...


http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5147/5676404102_38c6e3bc0b_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotur/5676404102/)
0525dot2011 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dotur/5676404102/) by dotur (http://www.flickr.com/people/dotur/), on Flickr

Sparrow
05-01-2011, 09:30
... perhaps you missed the disinterest the last time you posted that? ... probably something to do with it's irrelevance?

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 09:31
So now you guys are poisoning pigeons with fish.

semilog
05-01-2011, 09:33
People have greater access to more equipment and use it more imaginatively than only a few years ago; for example, how many film users used to fit so many and various lenses from so many and various manufacturers on their cameras?

And modern equipment is well suited to experimenting with shallow focus (indeed, it suits experimentation full stop). High resolution sensors and screens show off the effect very well and better than on film and in prints.

I'm curious. Have you ever used medium or large format camera gear? And are you aware that it was not until the 1960s that the sub-miniature 35mm format (what we, in our modern benightedness, now call "full-frame"), with its extended DoF, was widely adopted by the average amateur photographer? And are you aware that for 50 years prior to that millions upon millions of amateur and professional photographers almost exclusively used cameras with big negatives and very limited DoF? And that a great many of these photographers were very serious, and very creative?

I ask, because your comments suggest that you are not aware of at least some of these things.

dotur
05-01-2011, 09:34
www.ivanlozica.com

Oh no, Stewart - that's another shot of the same ugly subject: the first one was 1.8, this one is 22, a day after...

j j
05-01-2011, 13:27
I'm curious. Have you ever used medium or large format camera gear? And are you aware that it was not until the 1960s that the sub-miniature 35mm format (what we, in our modern benightedness, now call "full-frame"), with its extended DoF, was widely adopted by the average amateur photographer? And are you aware that for 50 years prior to that millions upon millions of amateur and professional photographers almost exclusively used cameras with big negatives and very limited DoF? And that a great many of these photographers were very serious, and very creative?

I ask, because your comments suggest that you are not aware of at least some of these things.

No, I have never used medium and large formats. Yes, I am aware that 35mm superceded larger formats for amateurs in the last 50 years. I am not aware (and I do not not believe it to be true) that there were millions upon millions of amateur photographers in the 1910s. I am aware that remarkable photographs were made then. None of which conflicts with the bits you quoted.

Edit: Ah, I see you said 1910 to 1960. Still seems a bit of a high number.

CK Dexter Haven
05-01-2011, 14:18
I think it's ridiculous to make these types of generalizations. A hack might do it poorly. A good photographer might do it well.

The way you feel about bokeh is how i typically feel when i see a portfolio or flickr page (or whatever) from a photographer and everything in every image is in focus. I feel like screaming, "Make a decision." Including everything is even lazier than excluding everything.

Another way of looking at it: I live in midtown NYC. If i were to go out and just 'look' around, there's no angle i could look that wouldn't have something 'objectionable' in the imaginary frame. Including all of that is akin to not having any taste. Not being discerning and thinking everything is 'okay' is not something i'd be proud of.

Roger Hicks
05-01-2011, 14:46
I think it's ridiculous to make these types of generalizations. A hack might do it poorly. A good photographer might do it well.

The way you feel about bokeh is how i typically feel when i see a portfolio or flickr page (or whatever) from a photographer and everything in every image is in focus. I feel like screaming, "Make a decision." Including everything is even lazier than excluding everything.

Another way of looking at it: I live in midtown NYC. If i were to go out and just 'look' around, there's no angle i could look that wouldn't have something 'objectionable' in the imaginary frame. Including all of that is akin to not having any taste. Not being discerning and thinking everything is 'okay' is not something i'd be proud of.

What generalizations, though?

Some shallow d-o-f stuff is done well. Some is done badly. I don't think anyone would argue with this.

My original post suggested that I'm seeing more and more of it done badly, especially in bright light.

To me this suggests two possibilities:

There is more and more of it, and it is being done badly, but it is a fashion that will pass.

There is more and more of it and we are seeing a permanent change in the way of seeing , just as we saw an ever increasing acceptance throughout the 20th century of what was, in the 1930s, called 'violent' or 'extreme' perspective from wide-angle lenses.

I apologize for not making myself clearer in earlier posts, but very few people seem to have addressed this question.

Cheers,

R.

semilog
05-01-2011, 15:00
No, I have never used medium and large formats. Yes, I am aware that 35mm superceded larger formats for amateurs in the last 50 years. I am not aware (and I do not not believe it to be true) that there were millions upon millions of amateur photographers in the 1910s. I am aware that remarkable photographs were made then. None of which conflicts with the bits you quoted.

Edit: Ah, I see you said 1910 to 1960. Still seems a bit of a high number.

http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/brownieCam/index.shtml

j j
05-01-2011, 15:39
OK semilog, so now I am curious...

What is the conflict between the Box Brownie and my comments that people have greater access to more equipment now and that modern equipment is well suited to experimenting with shallow focus?

Pablito
05-01-2011, 15:45
Selective focus is one thing: turning a jumbled background into a blur. But more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.

This isn't a 'bokeh' issue. It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me.

Is this pure habituation/age (when I started in the 60s, there were still plenty of cameras that stopped at 1/500 second)? Or is it that I'm seeing a fashion that will, with any luck, be short lived?

Cheers,

R.

It is a fad, and what's worse is that it's become de rigueur in photojournalism of all places. It's an aesthetic conceit.

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 15:51
I've been shooting wide-open for over 30 years. It's just hard for me to think of myself as stylish, trend setter, or making a fad popular.

I have not bought a tie since the mid 1980s. Or a suit. I keep a change of clothes at work in case I have to give a VIP briefing. Although the last one did not mind me wearing a T-Shirt and shorts.

semilog
05-01-2011, 16:20
OK semilog, so now I am curious...

What is the conflict between the Box Brownie and my comments that people have greater access to more equipment now and that modern equipment is well suited to experimenting with shallow focus?

The introduction of the Brownie marks the moment when photography became a mass-market pastime, and that was 110 years ago.

The technical point is that DoF decreases as image sensor area increases.

For 60+ years, consumer cameras used "miniature" format sensors (film) ranging from 50 X 50 mm to 60 x 70mm and larger. These were at one time all considered to be amateur formats. Over much of this period, most professionals generally eschewed "miniature" formats in favor of genuinely large formats: 100 X 125 mm and larger.

35 mm "full" frame is actually a subminiature camera format with a tiny 24 X 36 mm sensor, and (unless super-fast lenses are used) enormous depth of field.

For most of the history of photography, the problem faced by most photographers most of the time was how to get enough DoF — not how to minimize it. The dreamy, creamy, overly romantic, shallow DoF look was at one time the norm and it was precisely this norm that a group of photographers on the American west coast rejected when, in 1932, they founded Group f/64 (http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/f64/hd_f64.htm).

So the idea that photographers obsessed with shallow DoF today are exploring something in any way new, or doing it (in your phrasing) more creatively than their predecessors, is both preposterous and ahistorical.

Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.

keepright
05-01-2011, 16:23
To me this suggests two possibilities:

There is more and more of it, and it is being done badly, but it is a fashion that will pass.

There is more and more of it and we are seeing a permanent change in the way of seeing , just as we saw an ever increasing acceptance throughout the 20th century of what was, in the 1930s, called 'violent' or 'extreme' perspective from wide-angle lenses.

I propose that it's not a fad, and will become (remain?) a permanent and significant part of the visual language of hobbyist photography.

Producing images with distinctively shallow depth of field isn't possible with the current default photographic equipment. (Phones, compacts, and f/5.6 zoom lenses on sub-frame dSLRs.) Gone are the days of 120 film as an amateur format; small-format cameras no longer include a fast prime as their kit lens. Creating shallow depth of field has gone from a side effect of needing to photograph in low light to an accomplishment available only to those who have purchased different equipment. As such it's a goal to be pursued for its own sake – an irresistible temptation for a small but prominent sub-set of our hobby.

(Naturally that's not to say that it has no artistic or expressive merit, etc.)

Brian Sweeney
05-01-2011, 16:46
105 Nikkor, wide-open at f2.5 on the Leica M9.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/586/still_life_105_f25.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2335&title=still-life-2c-kitchen-2c-105-2f2-5-wide-open&cat=586)

Outdoors, faded Cherry Blossoms.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/586/cherry_blossoms2_105_25.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2329&title=faded-blossoms-2c-nikkor-10-5cm-f2-5-2c-wide-open&cat=586)

At least this thread got me out for a nice walk at a local historic spot.

dotur
05-01-2011, 22:51
Selective focus is one thing: turning a jumbled background into a blur. But more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.


www.ivanlozica.com (http://www.ivanlozica.com)

I might be mistaken, but the nauseating effect of the clear objects rendered in very poor focus in broad daylight can be partly caused by the increased contrast and saturation of modern lenses - not to mention the deadly post-processing sins. Higher contrast and saturation create unpleasant and distracting effects. Intensive color blots within the blurred background/foreground act as unnatural artifacts - they scream, they are too strong and thus draw attention away from the intended shallow focus, ruining the composition.
The numerous selective focus shots from LF/MF era are usually black and white or monochrome - the lenses were softer and the shutters were too slow to allow the outdoor use of wide-open lenses.

Gabriel M.A.
05-01-2011, 23:39
It is a fad, and what's worse is that it's become de rigueur in photojournalism of all places. It's an aesthetic conceit.

"Fad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fad)"

"De Rigueur (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/de_rigueur)"

"Conceit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceit)"


http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/003/pictures/Captain-James-Walsh.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/003/Captain-Walsh-James-L.htm)
Captain James Walsh, portrait nouveau victim, 150 years ahead of its conceited de rigueur fad time.


http://www.old-picture.com/american-history-1900-1930s/pictures/Orthodox-Beard-001.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/american-history-1900-1930s/Orthodox-Beard-Jew-001.htm)
Boring de rigueur portrait nouveau fad victim, unwittingly victimized by the very very very late arrival of fast film and f/64 aperture combinations. Oh, the humanity. 100 years ahead of its time.


http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/007/pictures/Granville-Brigadier-General-Sharpe.jpg (http://www.old-picture.com/american-legacy/007/Granville-Brigadier-Sharpe-General.htm)
De rigueur photojournalistic conceit in 1917, a portrait nouveau fad 96 years ahead of its time.

taskoni
05-01-2011, 23:43
Great portraits!
Regards,
b.

Roger Hicks
05-02-2011, 01:07
The best arguments so far, as far as I am concerned, come from Semilog and Matthew:

For most of the history of photography, the problem faced by most photographers most of the time was how to get enough DoF — not how to minimize it. The dreamy, creamy, overly romantic, shallow DoF look was at one time the norm and it was precisely this norm that a group of photographers on the American west coast rejected when, in 1932, they founded Group f/64. (Semilog)

Though I'd add that it wasn't just shallow d-o-f: it was also deliberate softness, muddy tonality and 'control' processes such as bromoil, a.k.a. 'muck spreading'.

I propose that it's not a fad, and will become (remain?) a permanent and significant part of the visual language of hobbyist photography. . . Creating shallow depth of field has gone from a side effect of needing to photograph in low light to an accomplishment available only to those who have purchased different equipment. As such it's a goal to be pursued for its own sake – an irresistible temptation for a small but prominent sub-set of our hobby. . . (Matthew)

The last sentence is a bit cynical but, I think, accurate.

And of course as Dotur points out,

I might be mistaken, but the nauseating effect of the clear objects rendered in very poor focus in broad daylight can be partly caused by the increased contrast and saturation of modern lenses - not to mention the deadly post-processing sins. Higher contrast and saturation create unpleasant and distracting effects. Intensive color blots within the blurred background/foreground act as unnatural artifacts - they scream, they are too strong and thus draw attention away from the intended shallow focus, ruining the composition.
The numerous selective focus shots from LF/MF era are usually black and white or monochrome - the lenses were softer and the shutters were too slow to allow the outdoor use of wide-open lenses.

Thanks to all, but to those three particularly. The entire thread has clarified my own thinking on the subject, and it is clearly of interest to others too.

An interesting parallel is with 'frozen motion' shots when 1/1000 second shutter speeds became widely available: I think I recall that these became popular for a while. What is curious is that they are much less common now, even though we have 1/2000 and faster speeds to play with. This argues first, that 'because they can' is not necessarily a compelling argument, and second, that 'frozen motion' shots are probably even more difficult to do well than shallow d-o-f shots in good light.

As for jj who appears to think that I am against all forms off shallow d-o-f in good light, and that I am peculiarly irritated by shallow d-o-f, no, that's not the case: there is a difference between robustness of phraseology, and hyperbole. Like Pablito. I think that to a considerable extent, it is a fad and will decline, but like many others, I do not believe that it will go away completely: it will remain a useful technique, long after it has ceased to be over-used.

Cheers,

R.

Gabriel M.A.
05-02-2011, 01:53
Well, as far as "fads" are concerned (whether one ignores the "history of the gear", so to speak, or not), it's a veeeeeery long-lived one.

Just like B&W. All those B&W shots on the intertoobes. It's a fad. And the purpose of HDR. Ansel Adams started that fad (including "sharpness").

What next? Biological farming, a gourmet nouveau fad? Natural-birth without the aid of drugs: a birthing nouveau fad? Saving money and not becoming over-debted: a boring financial nouveau irritation?

My pseudo-point (at least I qualify it as such) is that most superlavists and hyperbolists concentrate on the immediate now, and ignore history and details of such. They take a running thought and spin it out of control. Sometimes you just have to counter-spin it. Just for fun's sake. ;)

Roger Hicks
05-02-2011, 03:11
Well, as far as "fads" are concerned (whether one ignores the "history of the gear", so to speak, or not), it's a veeeeeery long-lived one.

Just like B&W. All those B&W shots on the intertoobes. It's a fad. And the purpose of HDR. Ansel Adams started that fad (including "sharpness").

What next? Biological farming, a gourmet nouveau fad? Natural-birth without the aid of drugs: a birthing nouveau fad? Saving money and not becoming over-debted: a boring financial nouveau irritation?

My pseudo-point (at least I qualify it as such) is that most superlavists and hyperbolists concentrate on the immediate now, and ignore history and details of such. They take a running thought and spin it out of control. Sometimes you just have to counter-spin it. Just for fun's sake. ;)

The fact that something has been long lived does not preclude its becoming a fad for a while. A fad, after all, is merely a fashion that becomes tiresomely ubiquitous. Think of punk: a fashion that was at first interesting, then was adopted so ubiquitously as to become dull and predictable -- dullness and predictability being exactly the things that some punks actually protested about (as did hippies, as do most young people).

If you don't care for the word 'fad', call it 'fashion' or 'bandwagon-hopping' or even a 'craze' (though crazes are normally even shorter-lived than fads). Whatever you call it, I suspect that in (say) a decade's time, a lot of people will be saying, or thinking, "Yes, an awful lot of people were doing it then, and it got boring." Like extreme contrast in the 60s, or Linked Ring muddiness at the beginning of the 20th century, or fashion photography with 300mm lenses in (as far as I recall) the 1970s.

Cheers,

R.

peterm1
05-02-2011, 03:16
Is this sickly .........or OK?

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5309/5637660646_e490f0620d_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/life_in_shadows/5637660646/)
L1041851a (http://www.flickr.com/photos/life_in_shadows/5637660646/) by yoyomaoz (http://www.flickr.com/people/life_in_shadows/), on Flickr

dotur
05-02-2011, 04:36
Is this sickly .........or OK?
L1041851a (http://www.flickr.com/photos/life_in_shadows/5637660646/) by yoyomaoz (http://www.flickr.com/people/life_in_shadows/), on Flickr

It is sickly OK. The shot is almost monochrome, there is not too much saturation in that blurred window in the background... Shadows are strong enough to be the main topic, while the iron fence in focus remains damped in subdued light. In that way the composition remains coherent... the unity of the photo is preserved. Unitas, consonantio, claritas!

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 04:41
The ability to produce out-of-focus backgrounds is simply a salient feature of the equipment, and can be used as desired by the operator. Whether it is good or bad- purely subjective. Some like it, others do not.

It falls into the "You can't please all the people all the time, but you can make some people dizzy some of the time through the use of visual stimuli."

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 04:44
http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/586/dogwood_105_25.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2330&title=dogwoods-2c-nikkor-10-5cm-f2-5-2c-wide-open&cat=586)

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/586/cherry_blossoms2_105_25.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2329&title=faded-blossoms-2c-nikkor-10-5cm-f2-5-2c-wide-open&cat=586)

Anybody get dizzy yet... Is my cruel experiment succeeding... or do I need to get out the Summarit.

jsrockit
05-02-2011, 05:00
In short, I reckon that people do it intentionally because they like it and I suspect you like it less because it is not your style and experience.

Yes, I agree...

Sparrow
05-02-2011, 05:01
... not dizzy, but a bit bored with the repetition

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 11:08
Bored, good. That is good.

That means I do not have to keep track if I post the same images again.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/565/cherry_tree_f15.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2063&title=cherry-tree-f15&cat=565)

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/565/flower_f151.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2059&title=flower-f151&cat=565)

Your cache should make the loads faster if I've posted the same image twice, and that should make you get dizzy.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/565/fence_f152.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1944&title=fence-f152&cat=565)

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 11:10
http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/583/colt45_35nokton_f12.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2205&title=colt45-35nokton-f12&cat=583)

This guy saw one too many out of focus images.

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 11:14
Board.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/582/salvage_50nokton_f11.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2188&title=salvage-50nokton-f11&cat=582)

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/582/wreckage_35nokton_f12.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2189&title=wreckage-2c-35-nokton-2c-wide-open&cat=582)

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 11:20
Here. You don't see Confederate Ironclads in your M9 viewfinder everyday.

DOF at F1.1 is really much deeper than you expect at mid-range.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/582/albemarle_50nokton_f11.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2185&title=albemarle-50nokton-f11&cat=582)

No much DOF required for this F1.1 shot.

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/582/CSS_Tennessee_50nokton_f11.jpg (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=2192&title=50-nokton-wide-open-2c-css-tennessee&cat=582)

But notice how the muzzle blasts look like good Bokeh.

tomtofa
05-02-2011, 12:06
Sorry for the duplication, but I have to repost this from another thread (dogs): it displays both topics discussed here, gimmicky frozen motion and sickly out of focus - neither sharp nor creamy. Hah, beat that:

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2518/3691752587_85abdf114e_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/3691752587/)

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 12:33
This thread is billed as SICKLY out of focus and not one person has even gotten slightly DIZZY!

I'm trying, people. Would someone at least get a little nauseated!

I swear, Summarit, wide-open, flowers at close-focus with leaves of the tree line behind them!

lorriman
05-02-2011, 12:52
When I first discovered bokeh I went nuts for it. Everyhting at f2 at a minimum. However I soon realised that I even good quality bokeh (ie, no hard edged circles etc) was distracting from the subject in my contextual portraits. Indeed looking at lots of other people's pics I realised that I preferred oof that was demure but nevertheless present. Such bokeh gives a more classic look, doesn't distract from the subject and makes for a more attractive pic in my opinion. I think in time the bokeh craze will mature and people will begin to discover a balance. I can't imagine that it will pass away completely, as so many crazes do, since p&s photos where everything is so sharply in focus will always push the more advanced in to the arms of bokeh.

delft
05-02-2011, 13:38
...
An interesting parallel is with 'frozen motion' shots when 1/1000 second shutter speeds became widely available: I think I recall that these became popular for a while. What is curious is that they are much less common now, even though we have 1/2000 and faster speeds to play with. This argues first, that 'because they can' is not necessarily a compelling argument, and second, that 'frozen motion' shots are probably even more difficult to do well than shallow d-o-f shots in good light.
...
I think the ' frozen moments' are still alive and well in sports photography, and ironically, they are then often combined with OOF backgrounds.
The picture in this link (http://picasaweb.google.com/jacoveldsema/AjaxAmsterdam#5553564310543265554) ( by Pim Ras) is a nice example, although the bokeh is a little harsh. I have no doubt that these shots are very difficult to do well.

Dirk

Thardy
05-02-2011, 13:57
I think the ' frozen moments' are still alive and well in sports photography, and ironically, they are then often combined with OOF backgrounds.
The picture in this link (http://picasaweb.google.com/jacoveldsema/AjaxAmsterdam#5553564310543265554) ( by Pim Ras) is a nice example, although the bokeh is a little harsh. I have no doubt that these shots are very difficult to do well.

Dirk

I imagine that the photographer was much more concerned with getting the athlete doing his thing than bokeh.

Think about all the factors involved to fill the frame and freeze the image.

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 14:00
This is with a Hybrid lens, front section of a Canon 50/1.5 with a rear module from a J-3.

I got the focal length correct, and RF coupled it.

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=171&pictureid=3283

Wide-open at F1.5. The contrast and rendering of the lens is unique.

Thardy
05-02-2011, 14:03
This is with a Hybrid lens, front section of a Canon 50/1.5 with a rear module from a J-3.

I got the focal length correct, and RF coupled it.

http://www.ziforums.com/picture.php?albumid=171&pictureid=3283

Wide-open at F1.5. The contrast and rendering of the lens is unique.

Looks like something from Photo Techniques or maybe Camera Arts magazine.

f16sunshine
05-02-2011, 14:21
How about the '51 Zeiss Biotar f1.5/75mm sickly enough?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2622/3848072929_0df24b7ac8_z.jpg?zz=1

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 14:37
Not sure Andy, maybe you could post another dozen shots or so. Then we could make up our mind.

tlitody
05-02-2011, 14:47
I thought the overated bokeh thread had decided that people pay too much attention to bokeh. This is truly anal.

Thardy
05-02-2011, 15:15
How about the '51 Zeiss Biotar f1.5/75mm sickly enough?

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2622/3848072929_0df24b7ac8_z.jpg?zz=1

Sickly? Isn't that character?

Brian Sweeney
05-02-2011, 15:19
She does look a little bit Dizzy to me.

FINALLY!

Interesting results with the two Summarits on the M9. Turns out both of them are optimized for F2.8, and that both front-focus at F1.5. Dante Stella always maintained that the Summarit was optimized for stop-down work. I might change the shim out on one of them to optimize for F1.5. The difference was noticeable. I am a bit anal that way.

Roger Hicks
05-02-2011, 23:04
'Sickly' and 'nauseating' don't mean the same thing. And as I said early on, this was NOT intended to be a bokeh thread. It's about QUANTITY of o-o-f, not quality.

I find it odd, too, that some people seem implicitly to deny that there are ever fashions in photography, or that sometimes, these fashions are so over-used that become tiresome clichés. Anyone else remember Spanish fishermen mending nets, nudes lit through slatted shutters, and other clichés of the 50s and 60s? Ultra-shallow d-o-f (and HDR, for that matter) are equivalent clichés de nos jours. It's not that they're never any good. It just that there comes a time when you (or at least I) say, "Oh, no, not that again," and even the good stuff is dragged down by association with endless repetition of the same trick.

Cheers,

R.

Brian Sweeney
05-03-2011, 01:52
So your telling me that some people shoot like I do and they are not just testing if they got the shim on their lenses right! What are they thinking.

This thread is like telling your Kid brother - "Stop doing that, it bothers me!" They just cannot resist.

Roger Hicks
05-03-2011, 03:07
So your telling me that some people shoot like I do and they are not just testing if they got the shim on their lenses right! What are they thinking.

This thread is like telling your Kid brother - "Stop doing that, it bothers me!" They just cannot resist.

Dear Brian,

Well, one person doesn't make a fashion. You decided long ago that you want to shoot this way, whether purely to test shimming or for fun, and I wish you the very best of luck. I was thinking more of those who see shallow d-o-f; think 'oh, wow, I can do that'; who do it; and who fail to see that they've just made another dull, me-too picture.

Of course, dull, me-too pictures are nothing unusual. We all make them, some more often than others. But when the technique is all that there is to a picture, and it's such a fashionable techhnique, it's not a bad idea to think about why you are doing it and whether it is successful. 'You', obviously, in the sense of 'one'. and not 'Brian'.

Cheers,

R.

mgd711
05-03-2011, 03:18
In a strange way, I actually agree with Roger (that doesn’t happen often...) and I also agree with lorriman, just because you can shoot wide open all the time doesn’t mean you should.

You asked the question who's sick now, well, I threw up long ago and that's not good. Me being a tight arsed Scotsman and all that, throwing up is not good... It means I have to pay twice!

More seriously, Roger has a very good point. Bokeh is subjective, just like HDR... Too much of it and your sick off it for life...

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 03:21
Having a surreal streak in both my aesthetic sensibilities and my sense of humour can I just say how interesting the visual perception discussion has been, and how refreshing is is to see a moderator disrupting the thread ...

mgd711
05-03-2011, 03:21
I like my OOF backgrounds just fine. :p

http://litpixel.com/ee/images/normal/A0007025.jpg


I like this a lot, the colour, the sharp focus on the flower and the sickly out off focus area are all perfect. This to me is a stunning image and one I'd be proud to hang on my wall. :)

mgd711
05-03-2011, 03:23
Having a surreal streak in both my aesthetic sensibilities and my sense of humour can I just say how interesting the visual perception discussion has been, and how refreshing is is to see a moderator disrupting the thread ...


I had noticed this as well... Hope I don't get banned for my comments! :):):)

Brian Sweeney
05-03-2011, 04:23
I'm happy.

I probably post more shallow depth of field shots than anyone else on this forum.

I do not want anyone thinking that I am fashionable or any kind of trend setter.

jsrockit
05-03-2011, 04:36
Photography is full of cliches and parlor tricks. I'd rather just go have fun photographing than worrying about if I'm being fashionable or not. In the end, its a body of work that matters, not one individual cliche. And as Roger has conceded, we all fall for the cliche... it's inevitible in photography.

gilpen123
05-03-2011, 04:47
The not so loved bokeh of the summarit 1.5 but it does the work of isolating the chess set, IMO the practice extensive or not depends on what one visualized the shot to be. It should have meaning from the point of view of the photographer.

http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/Res6/701982268_J5Zjy-L.jpg (http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/10179466_kbDL3#701982268_J5Zjy-A-LB)

From the VC 40 1.4 SC

http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/CA-1editres/826364602_XPfgF-L.jpg (http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/10179466_kbDL3#826364602_XPfgF-A-LB)

http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Other/Bokeh/EPS0265res/780072511_jGxZd-L.jpg (http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Other/Bokeh/11110918_aSZML#780072511_jGxZd-A-LB)

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 05:26
Selective focus is one thing: turning a jumbled background into a blur. But more and more, I'm noticing pictures where the o-o-f background is so noticeable that it's nauseating. It's not a jumble turned into a blur: it's clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus.

This isn't a 'bokeh' issue. It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me.

Is this pure habituation/age (when I started in the 60s, there were still plenty of cameras that stopped at 1/500 second)? Or is it that I'm seeing a fashion that will, with any luck, be short lived?

Cheers,

R.

Well to go back to the original observation;

I believe the effect Roger is recounting could well be physiological.

In everyday life, in good light ones' eyes are constantly refocusing to the place ones' gaze alights. The human eye has all the limitations our lenses have, but because of our brains remarkable autofocus system we are seldom aware of anything being out of focus in daylight.

However the type of image Roger refers to as "clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus" could possibly be causing the eye to try to resolve the OOF areas and in effect be hunting for the correct focus.

As the eye's focal-length is part of our distance and spatial-awareness perception it could very easily be inducing a sensation similar to vertigo in some people ... just a thought

tlitody
05-03-2011, 06:32
According to Wikipedia, the maximum aperture of the human eye is around F3.2 and the minimum around F8.3 for an average focal length of around 22-24mm. According to rogers little theory, we should limit ourselves to these apertures and presumably these focals lengths and also presumably using the corresponding apertures to the eye according to the ambient light levels if we want our images to look as he thinks they should. I know what I think. What would Henry Emerson say?

http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/history/emerson.htm

And we're still arguing about it today. You would have thought we'd have it sussed by now.

semilog
05-03-2011, 06:50
According to rogers little theory

Mis-stating what other people have written or said, then arguing against your own misstatement: awesome.

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 06:54
yep, and I have a FOV of around 170-180ᴼ so I find a focal length of 22-24mm a little hard to believe

tlitody
05-03-2011, 07:08
yep, and I have a FOV of around 170-180ᴼ so I find a focal length of 22-24mm a little hard to believe

dunno becaue you have to take the refractive index of the fluid in your eye into consideration meaning you cannot compare to camera lens directly. But then what you see at the periphary isn't sharp where lens manufacturers try and make it sharp as they can. Naughty people, that isn't natural we should all complain.
Could a camera 22mm lens see 180 degrees but not sharp? I don't know but my eyes can.

seems to me that most of us really aren't interested in "Natural" which is an idea that died long ago in the photographic world. Are we trying to resurrect it here? Is that what this thread is all about?

alistair.o
05-03-2011, 07:08
According to Wikipedia, the maximum aperture of the human eye is around F3.2 and the minimum around F8.3 for an average focal length of around 22-24mm.



My Mrs can spot a penny on the pavement at night - so, I reckon her eyes open to f0.95 (at least).

tlitody
05-03-2011, 07:10
My Mrs can spot a penny on the pavement at night - so, I reckon her eyes open to f0.95 (at least).

Do you send her out at night specially?

alistair.o
05-03-2011, 07:13
Do you send her out at night specially?

An old dog learning new tricks ;)

Rogier
05-03-2011, 07:22
Leica M4-P, Zeiss Biogon 35/2, Fuji Reala.

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5028/5683568039_780f000821_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogierwillems/5683568039/)
2011_04_29_Scan-110429-0024 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogierwillems/5683568039/) by Rogier Diver (http://www.flickr.com/people/rogierwillems/), on Flickr

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 07:30
dunno becaue you have to take the refractive index of the fluid in your eye into consideration meaning you cannot compare to camera lens directly. But then what you see at the periphary isn't sharp where lens manufacturers try and make it sharp as they can. Naughty people, that isn't natural we should all complain.
Could a camera 22mm lens see 180 degrees but not sharp? I don't know but my eyes can.

seems to me that most of us really aren't interested in "Natural" which is an idea that died long ago in the photographic world. Are we trying to resurrect it here? Is that what this thread is all about?

No, I don't think the OP mentioned natural, and it hasn't been a major part of the discussion that I've noticed

Roger said he found indistinct backgrounds in daylight disconcerting, I believe that is what the thread is about ... but then I'm only speaking for myself.

tlitody
05-03-2011, 07:33
No, I don't think the OP mentioned natural, and it hasn't been a major part of the discussion that I've noticed

Roger said he found indistinct backgrounds in daylight disconcerting, I believe that is what the thread is about ... but then I'm only speaking for myself.

Well by implication that is what I think this is about. i.e. a blurred background looks unnatural, it doesn't look right or have I have mis-interpreted this. I don't think so.

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 07:41
Well by implication that is what I think this is about. i.e. a blurred background looks unnatural, it doesn't look right or have I have mis-interpreted this. I don't think so.

He said it looked normal in poor light but inappropriate in bright light, unless I'm misreading it.

From the OP This isn't a 'bokeh' issue. It's just that on a bright, sunny day, I'm used to seeing most of a scene more or less in focus. Shooting at 1/4000 wide open, solely because you can, just looks weird to me. Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial, at least to me.

A little like the dog on the beach photo above, it just looks a bit off

Roger Hicks
05-03-2011, 07:44
Well to go back to the original observation;

I believe the effect Roger is recounting could well be physiological.

In everyday life, in good light ones' eyes are constantly refocusing to the place ones' gaze alights. The human eye has all the limitations our lenses have, but because of our brains remarkable autofocus system we are seldom aware of anything being out of focus in daylight.

However the type of image Roger refers to as "clear objects (buildings, etc) rendered in very poor focus" could possibly be causing the eye to try to resolve the OOF areas and in effect be hunting for the correct focus.

As the eye's focal-length is part of our distance and spatial-awareness perception it could very easily be inducing a sensation similar to vertigo in some people ... just a thought
Dear Stewart,

This sounds extremely likely. As a result of ear infections from swimming in the Mediterranean as a boy, I've had inner ear problems and poor balance for most if my life: if I close my eyes I start to sway, even stone cold sober. I therefore rely heavily -- probably far more heavily than most people -- on visual clues for distance and spatial awareness.

A fascinating thought. Thanks.

Cheers,

R.

GSNfan
05-03-2011, 07:44
The not so loved bokeh of the summarit 1.5 but it does the work of isolating the chess set, IMO the practice extensive or not depends on what one visualized the shot to be. It should have meaning from the point of view of the photographer.

http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/Res6/701982268_J5Zjy-L.jpg (http://gilpen.smugmug.com/Photography/Film/10179466_kbDL3#701982268_J5Zjy-A-LB)



But from a photographic point of view, what makes the chessboard and pieces more important than the man in the background?

What if I want to look at the chessboard, the pieces and the people and landscape in the background to 'get a feel' for the place? I love chess and I have seen some marvelous sets but imo the people playing chess are far more interesting 'photographically' than the chessboard itself.

Roger Hicks
05-03-2011, 07:53
He said it looked normal in poor light but inappropriate in bright light, unless I'm misreading it.

Dear Stewart,

This brings us straight back to habituation, as mentioned in the first post and subsequently: that a great deal of what we see is learned. Is accepting shallow d-o-f something we have learned since the invention of photography? As noted above, in the 1930s people spoke of 'violent' perspective from 28mm and even 35mm lenses, which now we take for granted. Is perception of d-o-f a similar habituation?

Perhaps needless to say, no, you're not misreading it. Nor are you putting (totaly false) words into my mouth.

Cheers,

R

Roger Hicks
05-03-2011, 08:00
But from a photographic point of view, what makes the chessboard and pieces more important than the man in the background?

What if I want to look at the chessboard, the pieces and the people and landscape in the background to 'get a feel' for the place? I love chess and I have seen some marvelous sets but imo the people playing chess are far more interesting 'photographically' than the chessboard itself.

That is indeed my feeling here. The chessboard is... a chessboard. Not a particularly interesting or handsome one, and not telling much of a story. It might tell more of a story with deep field focus, relating more to the man on the wall. Or it might not.

Of course all the stories are in our heads, and we see different stories, and de gustibus non disputandum, but this strikes me as essentially a narrative picture rather than graphic. In narrative, in the nature of things, picture elements tend to be much more related, so to me the shallow d-o-f separates the elements artificially.

Cheers,

R.

Roger Hicks
05-03-2011, 08:01
Mis-stating what other people have written or said, then arguing against your own misstatement: awesome.

That's why he's of the very few on my ignore list.

Cheers,

R.

Gabriel M.A.
05-03-2011, 08:13
http://www.tradenote.net/images/users/000/145/794/products_images/351118.jpg
Popular all-in-focus "art".



http://johnbriner.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/starry-night.jpg
Boring, distracting, sickly, unpopular out-of-focus background.


It'll never catch on.

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 08:16
... now that one is so swirly even I can see it, thank goodness it isn't one of my lenses

GSNfan
05-03-2011, 08:17
... but this strikes me as essentially a narrative picture rather than graphic. In narrative, in the nature of things, picture elements tend to be much more related, so to me the shallow d-o-f separates the elements artificially.

Cheers,

R.

By focusing on the man sitting at the ledge the people and the landscape in background would have been in focus (if shot at f5.6 -f8 range) the chessboard would have looked slightly out of focus but this would have been a 'complete shot' with its intended narrative and a much better shot overall.

Gabriel M.A.
05-03-2011, 08:19
Well, can't we all just agree to disagree?

We're all right and wrong at the same time. It's all explained by Quantum Theory (another unpopular fad amongst Ptolemaists) ;)

tlitody
05-03-2011, 08:27
He said it looked normal in poor light but inappropriate in bright light, unless I'm misreading it.



A little like the dog on the beach photo above, it just looks a bit off

No he said in post 1 of the thread: "Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial".

I think plainly can be read as natural verses un-natural. So it's a naturalistic standpoint which is where Henry Emerson comes in because he wrote a book on the subject of naturalistic photography where in his view photographs should be rendered in the same way as the eye percieves them. And my point about the FStop of the eye relates directly to above quote in that at night or in dim light your Fstop gets bigger meaning shallower depth of field. i.e. "Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial". In bright light eyes FStop is smaller giving greater depth of field.
The original post is clearly stating the idea of Naturalistic photography.

See book "Peter Henry Emerson - Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art" Which current versions also contain "The death of Naturalistic Photography" by the same where he gave up on trying to swim against the tide.
It's a Victorian idea that photographers on mass rejected.

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 08:28
well as we all know, reality is simply an illusion created by a lack of alcohol ... and, obviously, bokeh if one of the fundamental laws of the multiverse

Sparrow
05-03-2011, 08:37
No he said in post 1 of the thread: "Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial".

I think plainly can be read as natural verses un-natural. So it's a naturalistic standpoint which is where Henry Emerson comes in because he wrote a book on the subject of naturalistic photography where in his view photographs should be rendered in the same way as the eye percieves them. And my point about the FStop of the eye relates directly to above quote in that at night or in dim light your Fstop gets bigger meaning shallower depth of field. i.e. "Shallow focus seems natural in poor light, but in bright daylight, it looks contrived and artificial". In bright light eyes FStop is smaller giving greater depth of field.
The original post is clearly stating the idea of Naturalistic photography.

See book "Peter Henry Emerson - Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art" Which current versions also contain "The death of Naturalistic Photography" by the same where he gave up on trying to swim against the tide.
It's a Victorian idea that photographers on mass rejected.

I would refer you to post 244 (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1612871&postcount=244) where you will find Roger is in agreement with my interpretation

Perhaps you could learn something from studding the work of another Victorian photographer C L Dodgson (http://people.virginia.edu/~ds8s/carroll/dodgson.html)

robert blu
05-04-2011, 04:20
What disturbs me is not the out of focus background (really in many cases I like it, to be honest) but the fact that we have certain time fashion in photography. I mean in a moment you "must" shoot wide angle with the human subject on the side and the environment in the other, everything in focus. Than we have the wave of the 50mm look, HCB like. Than we have the out of focus fashion where most of the frame is OOF and only a small portion is sharp. Now, among others we have the fashion of big size print, sometimes the size seems to be more important than the content. And if you do not follow the "actual" wave it seems your photo have no value. I refuse the way oh thinking and believe that according to what you desire/need to express you must choice an appropriate style. With the appropriate techniques.
robert

Brian Sweeney
05-04-2011, 04:30
Like most fields, Photography does seem to follow waves of what is in style.

Long hair seems to be in style again. Teenage boys look like they did in my 1970s High School yearbook. So I guess if you look at my hairstyle, you would think that I am following the new style. But in reality, I have gotten haircuts three times a year whether it needed it or not since High School.

Thardy
05-04-2011, 05:41
New style? Dunno. Been there, done that. ;)

Interesting point. Sounds like what many have been saying on this thread about 50 y/o photographic fads.