If Its Not Bokeh, Don’t Fix It!

*Giggle* Yes, I know I’m corny. I also know that the title of this entry implies I don’t like bokeh and that is (of course) not the case. Everyone loves bokeh. Those who don’t love pretty bokeh, raise your hand… Thats what I thought. Everyone loves bokeh!

I learned recently that the description of Bokeh comes from the Japanese word, “Boke”. Dictionary.com goes on to explain, “Definition: a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.” Got it? Lets move on! I have read so many tutorials on bokeh, the different effects that can be achieved, etc. But I decided I had to do it for myself. Here are the results!

I closed my blinds to get the room a little darker, strew my twinkle lights on the floor, put my camera on my tripod about 4 feet away from the floor. I put my camera on manual focus and intentionally moved focus completely off – in this case I put my focus as if my subject was only 1 ft away instead of 4 ft.

Note: All photos taken w/ISO 500 and SS 1/60 (something I noticed is some of the lights would not appear when I had the SS set at different levels, but when I set it to 1/60 all the lights appeared just fine. I need to investigate this piece of scientific mystery…)








And you get the point, the more closed your aperture is (larger f#) the smaller bokeh the lights create.

Here’s what the lights really looked like:

(I know I’m odd, but I keep looking at the little lights and comparing them to where the bokeh lights are. Did anyone else do this?)
Settings: SS1/50 f/2 ISO 6400 for this photo.

Lastly, I keep stumbling upon articles about filters. It sure seems split down the middle on this subject. Some pros use them to keep from scratching the precious glass on the lenses. Some swear they notice a difference in clarity and ability to grab focus and refuse to use any filters at all. In my learning, I decided I had to see this for myself (for now, because I know things can change).

When I bought my 50mm 1.4g lens from a dude on Craigslist, he included the filter he used for free. I didn’t think much about it, but after doing some research I did find this filter is a not bad brand (not cheap, but not pristine, either). This is a Hoya UV filter. Here’s a photo without any filters:

And then:


So a little bit hazy in bokeh. However, earlier I practiced on real light situations with and without the filter and there was zero difference, as well as a zero difference in grabbing focus. If you google differences in filters, you’ll see what I mean. It all comes down to if you have a $4 filter, you’ll see a mild difference. If you have a $20, you’ll HARDLY see a difference. If you have a $60+ filter, you’ll see no difference at all.

Now, I didn’t mention something in all of this… When I took the demonstration photos, I used my brand spanking new Rocketfish Circular Polarizer! It was an early Christmas present from Jim. It removes reflections from water, glass, etc. See the difference?

Well, what with all this time off I get for Christmas, I hope to be practicing even more with my camera. 😀 Merry Christmas everyone!


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