Tag Archive: bokeh


Last night, a few members of the TCRPMG went to Washington Park to apply what they had learned in the Camera Basics 101 course led by John Iannelli.  I think it was a huge success.  While we were there, I couldn’t help but grab this shot of the statue in the fountain and the amazing sky he was facing.

From where I was standing, it looked like he was yelling to the heavens, perhaps asking for rain.  The texture of the sky made it even more appealing.  I was really happy that I had been there at that exact time.

At the meetup, we discussed how light affects how your image comes out.  We also discussed shutter speed and aperture.  The main components when used together can make some really amazing shots.

We found a nice flower and took pictures of it, with the goal of having a sharply focused main subject with a blurred background (bokeh effect).  It was a great exercise and I think the members really enjoyed learning how this effect was accomplished.

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I am going to go out on a limb with today’s blog and do something a little different.  I am going to tell you about pictures that I took that just weren’t quite good enough.  Everyone makes mistakes.  I am no different.  That is the best part about shooting digital.  If you make a mistake, you can see it, and correct for it.  Then you can shoot it again with the correct settings and Voila!

I picked out a few pictures that I have taken within the last week that didn’t pass the test for one reason or another.  I will post up the picture and tell you why I didn’t think it was good enough.  I know this may be frowned upon by many, but I think it needs to be said.  None of us picked up a camera on day one and were automatically perfect.  I have deleted more than my fair share of pictures because they didn’t make my cut.  I will add this though – most serious photographers (myself included) are horribly over-critical of their own work.  People tell me every day that my work is amazing, and while I appreciate the compliments, I can usually see things that I think aren’t quite good enough.  I don’t know why it happens, but it does.

Because of this, I am sure I have thrown away perfectly acceptable pictures many times.  They just didn’t seem quite good enough for me.  I do get a lot of positive feedback and constructive criticism from my peers over at the Movie Photo Forums.  They definitely motivate and challenge me to be a better photographer.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Here’s the first picture I have to talk about.  I was driving around on Saturday during a storm way up on top of a mountain and I saw this house.  This shot was taken in the car, through the windshield.  I was driving, so I pulled over and took the shot.  The UV glass in the car gives it a greenish hue.  It also wasn’t composed very well.  Using the rule of thirds in composition, this picture is not composed well at all.  The image shouldn’t be in the middle.  It should be in the bottom or top third of this shot.

In this picture, the most obvious problem is the A-pillar of the car and reflection from the windshield in the bottom right.  I had the 70-300mm lens on the camera and wasn’t far enough away to get the whole house in the shot without changing lenses.  I didn’t want to change to a wider lens in case I saw something in the distance I wanted to shoot.  Also, the green hue from the windshield exists in this one.  The light was great against the almost pitch black background.  If I had switched lenses, and rolled forward a few hundred feet, I could have put the window down and gotten a clear shot.  Maybe next time…

I really like this picture for the most part.  Sometimes as a photographer, you get smacked in the face with reality.  You take a picture and step back and say to yourself, “I did that.  I took that picture”.  This was one of those times.  But not with this exact image.  I took four or five more after this and had one I loved a little more.  This one to me is way too dark.  The top of the flower is chopped off and should have more background above it.  The dew on the flower is not sharp enough either.  I do really love the bokeh (or blurry, out of focus) background.

So, what do you think?  Am I crazy, or does this make sense to you?  I know that I am way to critical.  There’s nothing I can do to change that.  It’s instilled in my brain.  I’d like to know how critical you are, and do you look at your pictures with the same crazy over critical attitude I have?  Do you just take pictures and post them, because they are good enough?  I am curious to know.  See ya soon!

As Spring becomes more prevalent in the air, the trees begin to form buds and eventually the grow out into what you see here – beautiful, colorful leaves.  A few days ago, I was wandering around the yard watering some of the seeds I had planted the day before and I notice that the buds were gone.

So, I went inside to grab the camera, as the light was perfect.  It was about 6pm and the sun was making it’s way down into the horizon.  At that time of day you get what we in the photography field like to call “Golden light”.  It is known as the “Golden Hour” because of the beautiful golden light the sun casts on everything.  It is the best time of day to shoot.  Well, sunrise is the other time, but I just don’t get up that damn early.

I couldn’t help but take pictures.  I grabbed a small 50mm lens I found kicking around in some old camera gear and stuck it on the camera.  I had never played with it before, so I was anxious to see what it would do.  It is a low-light lens and I don’t have any other lenses like that, so I had to play with it and see how it works.  It was great!  It gave me a fantastic bokeh effect on all of the pictures I took with it.

As I looked around the tree, I saw groups of leaves growing.  The picture on the right shows a cluster of leaves beginning to grow on the tree.  Everywhere you looked there were more and more clusters.  It makes me smile to see things starting to bloom again.  As I have stated in the past, the desire to shoot kind of goes away when the leaves fall off the trees and it starts to come back right around this time of year.  It is amazing to see everything come back to life.

The influx of colors and warmth make me want to go out and capture everything I can.  Soon I will be heading to waterfalls and parks to get some colorful shots.  There’s nothing like the smells and the colors to make you want to get out and roam around in the warm sunshine.

What is it about Spring that makes you happy?  Is it getting over the cabin fever?  Walks?  Ice cream?  Tell me why you love Spring.  See you soon!

What did you call me?

Bokeh.  Yeah, I said it.  But what does it mean?

According to this Wiki entry, bokeh is an  “out-of-focus areas of an image”, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus”  points of light.

iDigitalPhoto.com defines it as this;

bokeh

Definition: Subjective quality of the out-of-focus image projected by an optical system, usually a photographic lens. * The unsharp part of an image often makes the major part of a photograph: visually we prefer smooth gradations and spherical out-of-focus highlights: this is good quality bokeh. * Poor bokeh is caused by poor control of residual lens defects as well as the design of the diaphragm aperture blades or in-lens shutters. Lenses with circular apertures are more likely to produce smooth bokeh. * Transliteration of Japanese word.

Personally, I love this effect.  It gives the picture such a beautiful look and feel.  A lot of people think this technique is done in Photoshop, but it really isn’t.  It is done with the camera.  When it happens, it makes me feel so much better about the shot I took.

Art is subjective.  Everyone will have a different opinion on what exactly is art and what is not.  To me, this is one of the greatest forms.

I went through some of my pictures and found a few that I took that were good examples of the bokeh effect.  Tell me what you think…

I love how the background looks like frosted glass

I love how the background looks like frosted glass

A butterfly in our backyard

A butterfly in our backyard

A face only a mother could love

A face only a mother could love

Have you ever taken photos that have the bokeh effect?  Tell me about them.  Please subscribe to my blog.