This week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Bokeh, is run by Sofia Alves of PHOTOGRAPHIAS.
To quote Sofia:
The term Bokeh was first used to distinguish normal motion blur from the blur obtained when things are out of focus. It literally means blur in Japanese. The Nikon website, after a more complex and technical explanation, reduces it to simply this: “bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph”.
In many cases this Bokeh blur is achieved with a camera that has aperture priority.
- The camera aperture is set to a low number for a shallow depth of field
- The camera is focussed on the object in the foreground
- The background is out-of-focus and often dissolves into circles of lighter and darker areas. The ‘circles’ are a classic ‘Bokeh’ but you need areas of light in the background to achieve this. As Nikon says, any ‘aesthetic blur’ counts as Bokeh.
This Forsythia blooming in the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in downtown Vancouver shows a classic Bokeh blur in the background. But I had to borrow a decent camera to get this effect, and even then it was somewhat elusive.
Since I mostly use a little point and shoot without any aperture control, I can’t blur the background this way. Once in awhile I get the Bokeh circles by accident, maybe… This orange reflection in a parking garage could be a Bokeh abstract but I suspect it’s actually dappled light coming through some nearby trees.
Something I discovered awhile ago is that I could create Bokeh overlays by deliberately tricking my little camera into shooting out-of-focus images such as these lights at a music festival. Note that the entire image is out-of-focus; I had no way of focussing on an object in the foreground.
Riding the chairlift up at Blackcomb one day the air was full of sparkles, making me feel like I was gliding through a glittered-covered Christmas card. My camera captured the scene differently, showing brilliant rainbow Bokeh bouncing off the falling snow. Using Bokeh in the foreground this way is even more elusive and unpredictable.
The other night we got caught in a sudden hailstorm. Later I showed the image to my friend. She saw the large Bokeh circle near the middle and commented, “Too bad there’s that circle on it…” I thought I would put it into the photo app Pixlromatic and add one of its bokeh overlays, basically adding a pile more circles of light. I think it did a good job of capturing that strange lighting that evening. Now if only I could find a way to capture the thunder that was rolling through the storm, hmmm, can you get Bokeh in videos, and do they dance around???
I tried a different Pixlromatic bokeh filter on another sudden storm a month earlier where the rain was coming down in sheets. This is the view of that rainstorm outside my studio window on Parker St., and only the largest circle in the top left is original.
Another way to create a Bokeh overlay is by running Pixlromatic over a coloured background. Here is a Pixlromatic rose-coloured bokeh made by laying the one of its Bokeh overlays onto a black background.
I had to crop the shot to compensate for the horizontal/vertical difference, but the Bokeh certainly adds a strong feeling of sunlight streaming into the picture.
More of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Bokeh.