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Has anyone seen the latest issue of Photo Techniques? There are 3 fascinating articles about "Bokeh", which is a Japanese term describing the areas of the photograph that are not in focus.

The articles discuss the quality of the out-of-focus areas as being of equal importance as sharpness. I found the entire approach fascinating. I've always been aware of "Bokeh" but on a more subliminal level. This is the first time I've seen anything written about this subject on such a conscious level. Interestingly, one of the articles mentions that in the Japanese photo press, "Bokeh" is discussed on a regular basis.

This issue of Photo Techniques is definitely worth reading!


PS--Sorry, I left the mag at work and don't have contact info. Maybe someone on the forum can provide it?

-- Anonymous, May 02, 1997


Response to

Hi Mason,

I don't have the magazine but would like to comment on an accident that happened to me while making a still life photograph. It was a still life of some classic coke bottles. After I had everything set up and while inserting the film holder in my view camera the tripod which was sitting on the steps of my front porch moved. I did not know this happened and made the exposure. After developing the negative and making a test print I discovered much to my dismay the back part of the still life setup was out of focus. Then I took a better look at the print and thought, man this is a really good photograph. So being a clever person I said to myself "This is the way the eye sees". We focus on one part of a scene and everyting behind that is more or less out of focus. This has become one of my more popular still life photographs. If you would like to see of which I speak you can access my web site and this photograph is the first one displayed. The URL is: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/9083

So is Bokeh actually selective focus?

Dell P.S. What a sneaky way to get hits on my site. ;-)

-- Anonymous, May 02, 1997

PHOTO Techniques Contacts

PHOTO Techniques is a great resource. Subcriptions- PO Box 585, MT. Morris IL 61054-7686. One year-$19.95 or Call (800) 877-5410.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1997


These articles were indeed fascinating. My natural inclination is to go for maximum depth-of-field (I do mostly outdoors landscapes and natural world photography), but I've been happily surprised at images I've made that had reduced depth-of-field. While I've done a number of depth of field tests with different images in order to develop my sensitivities to focused/non-focused areas in different situations, I haven't really examined the specific characteristics of the bokeh, or out-of-focus areas. At times I've noticed that blurred areas were pleasing or detrimental because of how they were blurred, not just that they were blurred, but I hadn't really thought through the details. The discussions of bokeh in Photo Techniques are neat - they talk about what makes (for many Japanese photographers) for "good" bokeh (simple softening/blurring of out of focus areas in front/back of plane of focus) compared to "bad" (or not so good) bokeh (e.g., two-line, where out of focus bright lines get doubled, and complex, where different blur types are present). Even more interesting was the discussion of how different bokeh characteristics result from different lens abberations, focal lengths and aperture. It's nice to know there is some control for these characteristics, though I also feel like saying "Oh no - one more thing to think about when I pick a lens or aperture to make a photograph!" Now I want to go back to many photos and examine whether why I did or didn't like the contributions of the blurred areas to the images is because of the characteristics of those areas.

-- Anonymous, May 04, 1997

Bokeh on Compuserve

I've just learned that there are several interesting threads about Bokeh in Compuserve's Photo forum. Alas, I'm not on Compuserve. If anyone out there would like to share some of the salient points made there, it would be greatly appreciated.

BTW, I think the most successful part of the series of articles for me is that they make me want to go out and shoot, to test out my new bokeh-consciousness! Interestingly, they say the Konica Hexar's 35mm f/2 lens has very smooth Bokeh...no wonder I like that camera!

-- Anonymous, May 05, 1997

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