bbd

bbd
Location
Ridgway, Colorado
Birthday
May 15
Title
dilettante
Bio
A sometimes artist and photographer, sometimes I write too.  

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Editor’s Pick
AUGUST 6, 2011 9:11PM

Bokeh

Rate: 52 Flag

 

 

Cheetah

Cheetah Acinonyx venator, captive. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 4.5/5

 

 

A continuation of thoughts On Photography

 

Caveat lector: This is a much longer than normal post, with lots of images. The narrative is a bit shorter, so you get a break there. On the plus side, the images are all pretty much of a theme with a variety within that theme to make it interesting—perhaps.

 

 

Bokeh is a pleasant thing. If you haven't heard the term before, it is just what you might guess it to be—a pleasant Japanese thing. And for those who enjoy the Japanese aesthetic in art and who combine that with photography, it is sometimes something to strive for.

 

Written in Katakana as  Pages003 bokeh originally meant senility or a mental haze and was used to describe symptoms of Alzheimers. But in the context of photography it pertains to something artistic, subliminal and subjective. It is a sense of those things in a photograph that are blurry, but more than that—it's about the aesthetic quality of the blur in those areas of a photo that are out of focus.

 

The original Japanese word is transliterated as boke, but the spelling changed when the concept became popular in the United States in the mid '90s. Mike Johnston, at the time the editor of Photo Techniques,  commissioned three papers on the topic in an early 1997 issue. Johnston changed the spelling to make the English pronunciation match the Japanese phonetic. He was afraid that boke would be pronounced as  Pages004 as if to rhyme with poke. In fact there is an ending aspiration in the word. So Bokeh it is, although it should be boke-aji  Pages002 which is a more accurate Japanese definition and means "blur quality."

 

I'm going to present quite a few images with varying degrees of bokeh quality. Some are good, some are not so good and are included as a means of comparing, or to show that a decision was made to get a specific result that didn't necessarily have good bokeh as a compositional goal. 

 

The cheetah image at the top of the post is a particular favorite of mine. You'll notice in the caption that in addition to including the Latin binomial, there is a bokeh score based on a value from one to five. Five is damned good, zero or one is damned awful. The scores are my subjective analysis and everyone is free to differ. For the record, I don't really feel I've ever taken a photo that scores above 4, and only a few that rise to that—but then I'm a tough critic of my own stuff. 

 

One of the reasons the cheetah is a favorite is that it's really a collaboration. My son, the artist photographer was up from Austin and we decided to make a trip to the zoo together. He had his lovely Ansel Adams-style Linhof Technikardan bellows film camera, and I had my normal digital gear. I didn't see his results until much later as he had to return to Austin to develop and scan the film, but I loaded my images right away into the computer. 

 

I've mentioned before that I shoot in RAW format. I don't shoot in JPEG as JPEG is essentially a lossy algorithm. Some of the JPEG pixels are really just the camera's computer guessing what it ought to be as a means of saving space. RAW images are lossless. Data is packed into each pixel. The result of getting all the information means that you almost always have to do some post processing. There's so much information that the image often looks flat. 

 

So in addition to adjusting the image to what it was like in real life, the shot was taken through one-inch-thick glass. Shots like that invariably turn out a sickly green, it's just a normal phenomena especially when shooting at an oblique angle. Also, there were smudges on the glass from grubby, dirty little urchins that didn't know how lucky they were to be on the safe side after tormenting the cats with high pitched screams and banging on the glass. So the green cast had to go, along with the snotty smudges. I got it to a point that I liked and the artist son said "Let me take a look at it. Where's the original RAW file?"

 

Well, within about five minutes he produced the above beautiful rendition. Nothing was changed from what it looked like in situ, but my good effort was not nearly as good as his. Mine still had a slight green cast to it.

 

There are some fine things about the image. The detail about the face is extraordinary if you take a look at the larger size. You can even load the original huge size on the Flickr page if you want, just click on the button at the top that says "View all sizes."

 

However, for the purposes of this post on bokeh, we're not really looking at how fine the detail is in an image, but about the quality of the opposite—what does the out of focus areas add to the image. Is the creaminess (an important analytical bokeh term) of the dry grasses and shrubs in the background of a quality that adds to the subliminal enjoyment of the focal point—the cat's face?

 

I think the bokeh quality is there and a good counterpoint to the fine detail of the individual hairs on the cheetah. By the way, he's staring off into the distance wondering, I suppose, how to get to the succulent gazelles grazing peacefully about 200 yards away. 

 

 

(The score of 4.5 on that top image is an homage to the talented son who brought out the best in the image. The technique and process of which I will leave for another On Photography post.)

 

 

Before we get to the overlong roll call of images and short comments, I'd like to show two more of that cheetah and another that is middling but has a bit of whimsy that I enjoy.

 

Love tap scars

Bokeh score 4/5

 

Sleepy cat.

Bokeh score 3.5/5

 

 

Waiting

Bokeh score 3/5

 

My friend and OS member Julie Delio and I had spent the morning in a photo shoot. One result of that was another post in my On Photography series—Edit to One. While we were in a queue waiting for a lunch table to open up I noticed something on the plate glass out front. It took me a second to figure out what it was, then a wondering why it was and finally how could I take a photo that would emphasize one element while reducing all the others in the composing frame. This is the result. I struggled with the bokeh score on this finally settling on a little above average. There are some classic bokeh elements, the circular refracted light artifacts, the blended edges of color that travel seamlessly into the next color and the general painterly forms. A larger version is here.

 

 

Mechanics

Ideally, bokeh is soft and smooth and pleasing, but if the out of focus parts have elements that are sharp or not rendered enough to be smooth or there are lines going in different directions then those elements can intrude into the overall enjoyment and appreciation of the shot.

 

The best results come from film SLRs and digital SLR cameras with detachable lenses. Small cameras—point and shoots—have developed rapidly in quality and results in recent years, but to get to quality bokeh on those smaller cameras you have to manipulate some settings manually. 

 

Bokeh results are the realm of the lenses used, and not necessarily the camera body itself. Lenses which have the largest aperture openings are the ones that usually give the best results—lenses with f/2.8, f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 allow a very narrow depth of field. Depth of field is how much will be in focus from front to back as rendered on your film or digital sensor. Setting your lens with a large opening—indicated by a smaller f/stop number—will give you good results if some other elements are in place.

 

Lenses have diaphragm blades that close or open to a predetermined size depending on your f/stop setting when you press the shutter release. Generally bokeh is improved with a higher number of blades, the more expensive Nikon lenses have 9 blades. The blades on those higher end lenses are now often curved as well, which aids in rendering the out of focus points of light as more circular and pleasing.

 

I'm giving you the condensed version, there are mathematics and physics involved as well—blur circle, circle of confusion, Gaussian distribution, catadioptric distribution. Suffice it to say, the easiest way to develop your bokeh skills is to get out and do it. You can try and remember your settings when you get a pleasing result, or rely on a computer program to look at the EXIF data that each digital camera imprints in the file. That will tell you distance to the subject, f/stop, speed, white balance, metering—a host of information that will inform you what happened when you get the results you want.

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

The following photos are divided into groups that often have different objectives. I'll include some notes on the differences as we go along. 

 

Animáles

Let me offer another comment on composition before we proceed—we will get the the photos, I promise. Part of wishing to get a good bokeh background goes beyond the object or subject you're shooting. You have to think about the background. Your brain is an amazing computer with exquisite processing power and can interpret a wide range of depth from front to back, keeping a lot of things in focus. You might have experienced the difference between your eyes and the camera lens when you see a wonderful nature scene that has a lot of stuff going on—lots of branches, leaves, focal points at a variety of distances from you. While your brain can process the beauty and synthesize the elements into a whole thing for your enjoyment, the camera has to use the settings you've made on the camera and lens. And sometimes when you get your photo developed or load the image on your computer you think, "Wow, what happened, that was gorgeous when I took the shot, and now it just looks like a mess."

 

If you want seamless bokeh, try to position yourself so you get as uncluttered a background as possible. What that means, essentially, is that you're composing with your feet. Move around. Don't rely on your ability to use the zoom on the lens. It's often better to use a prime lens—one with a fixed focal length—to get the better shots. That's not always the case. My 70-200mm f/2.8 professional lens produces wonderful bokeh, but that lens by itself is north of $2,000.00 so it's not always an option for every photographer, nor should it be. And when I'm interested in composing for bokeh with that lens, I pick a focal length ahead of time within the zoom range, say 85 or 105mm, and move my feet to finish the composition.

 

Giraffe Giraffe camelopardalis, captive. Larger here.

Bokeh score 2.5/5

 

That's only the tip of the tongue, it's impossibly long and usually covered with ectoplasmic slime...just saying in case you're in a position to feed one. The background shows some vertical lines that aren't too intrusive, but the timbers on the right and the sandy white area distract. If I had taken two steps to the right to reorient the background, it would have been a better shot. 

 

 

Guira cuckoo Guira guira, captive

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

There are some classic bokeh elements in the cuckoo shot above—the circular light points and blended colors.

 

 

Harpy eagle Harpia harpyja, captive. Larger view here. Feather details on face are great on this and the following shot

Bokeh score 4/5

 

A favorite bird of mine, and an awesome biological construction. Massive wings propel the bird effortlessly through tropical jungles to snag monkeys and sloths from the upper canopy. It's talons are larger than a grizzly bear's claws.

 

 

Harpy profile. Larger view here

Bokeh score 4/5

 

 

Grey-headed kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala, captive. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 4/5

 

Another favorite bird, you can almost see the gleam in his eye letting you know he thinks he's gorgeous too. The bokeh is attractive and smooth, though I would have preferred a little darker space above his head.

 

 

feather detail sample

Rainbow Lorikeet Trichoglossus hæmatodus, captive

Bokeh score 2/5

 

Look at the original size for feather detail here (will take a while to load in your browser in a new window. If it doesn't render at 100%, then click on that new image to see the feather detail on his shoulder.) The bokeh is a bit too distracting with the angular lines and the thin branch to the left of his face is distracting even though it's rendered into a blur.

 

 

bokeh

Rainbow Lorikeet, captive. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

This is a much better rendering of the background, and goes back to my encouraging you to compose with your feet. A few steps to one side or another will take out some distracting elements. 

 

 

White-crested laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus, captive. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 4/5

An enormously curious bird and in spite of his name I've never heard a peep from him. I've been taking pictures of him in his large aviary for a number of years. The background again shows classic bokeh, with creamy rounded shapes.

 

 

Female Ostrich Struthio camelus, free range. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

The blurry savannah grass in the background provides a nice contrast to the fine detail on the ostrich's feathers. Photo taken with the 70-200mm f/2.8 with an ISO of 250 (normal on that camera body is 100) and a -0.33 exposure compensation (those sort of balance out I guess) at 1/800 second. This camera body, the Nikon D300, is a DX body, with a smaller sensor than the D3s I mostly use now. The smaller sensor results in a crop factor that renders the image as if you were using a 300mm lens with it set at 200mm (200 x 1.5). It's a fabulous lens for bokeh and detail in the same shot.

 

 

Greater Flamingo haute couture Phoenicopterus roseus, captive. Larger size here.

Bokeh score 4/5

 

As with many others, this was a lucky shot. The flamingo walked toward me and suddenly ducked down to get a drink or to feed and presented her dorsal view. The background of water showing some dappled highlights made it render as if she was standing in rushing water—a longtime favorite image of mine.

 

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

People

Some of these are candid shots, and some are set up. They aren't studio shots by any means but vary in degrees extemporaneous.

 

Riffing on the Santa Monica Pier

Bokeh score 4/5

 

I've shown this image before on OS in a story called Mumbling Towards Ecstasy where, if you're interested, you can learn what he's doing and the backstory. (And wow, it was posted a long time ago.) I'm using this again to reinforce the notion that you compose with your feet. It's even more necessary when you're using a prime lens—that means a lens with a fixed focal point instead of a zoom lens. The lens used in this is the estimable 85mm f/1.4 and has long been considered to be a premium portrait lens. And what I mean by saying you're better off when you compose with your feet is that you're not standing in one spot twisting the barrel of your lens to zoom in and out to frame your shot. If you have a fixed focal length lens, you are always in motion when you're composing, deciding what elements you want in the frame. Because of that, the walking around, you're also more likely to see some different backgrounds. In this case, I chose to have those buildings in the distance that were shades of blue to contrast with the the jazz guitar player and the darker blue of his shirt. Then, by choosing

an f/stop of 2.2—which is very fast and a very large aperture opening, resulting in a shallow front to back depth of field, it gave me the rendered background I was looking for. 

 

 

 

Lonnie in Austin, free range

Bokeh score 3.5/5

 

Who doesn't want to see a whimsical lovely shot of OS elder Lonnie Lazar lost in thought conjuring the next bon mot delivered to the delight of friends. A challenging background in a low light restaurant still shows some soft pleasant background elements.

 

 

Harold aka Mr Tuxedo Orton Technique

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

Harold's a great guy and runs the best rental haberdashery in the city. This image is the result of a Photoshop tutorial called the Orton Technique, and the subject of one of my On Photography posts—long before the series even had that as a name. You can find it here: Photoshop Portrait Sandwich. The background of a small ceramic tile wall provided a nice bokeh element for the original.

 

 

Chuck

Bokeh score 1/5

 

This is a nice headshot of Chuck, but you can see that while the background is rendered blurry and because of that you can better see the details on Chuck's face, there's simply too much going on with the column coming out of his head on one side and the side of the staircase out the other. Contrast the distracting business with the next image.

 

 

Fred fishing on the Trinity River. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 4/5

 

The river and cottonwood trees in the background provides some pleasant circular artifacts and a nice balance and contrast to Fred, a fine and kind man. This is another image from early in the beta days on OS in a post called Reprieve Part 1

 

 

Charles

Bokeh score 2/5

 

Much like the head shot of Chuck above, this one also provides a blurry background, and you can see the typical rendered circular artifacts. But the points of light are a little too harsh to be considered good bokeh. The parked cars contrast with the trees as well. Charles is a great guy—a stranger friend, probably never to meet again. This was outside the Arts and Craft Style Greene and Greene house in Pasadena.

 

 

Second cousins

Bokeh score 0/5

 

I included this shot as a comparison. Sometimes you simply can't back up enough, or orient yourself or your subjects in a way to get rid of a cluttered background. The best you can do is to use a fast, open f/stop and hope for the best. There's no denying that these girls are adorable and I'm glad I took the shot, but there's no bokeh here. They are second cousins once or twice removed from my beautiful bride taken at a recent family reunion.

 

 

The bride and the Most Interesting Man in the World. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 1.5/5

 

There's not much bokeh going on here except what you can see beyond the set or through the windows. In this case there were a lot of elements that had to get in focus, from the props on the table to the backdrop and the MIMITW's starlets, that it didn't make sense to try to do it any differently. Interestingly, the set and opportunity was a perquisite for the bride's business trip to Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort. There was a professional photographer taking shots of anyone who wanted to sit with the iconic Dos Equis guy. He had remotely triggered flashes in reflective umbrellas and a nice mid range Canon. I asked him if I could take a shot too when the bride was in the hot seat and he said yeah, go ahead. When I was getting set up, he tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a lady in red sitting on a loveseat off to the side of the set (index). She motioned with her finger for me to come over and join her. She wanted to know what I was doing. Of course it was obvious, but I knew what she meant. She was the MIMITW's agent—and wife. She was protecting the asset. I told her it was a shot of my wife and she gave permission for me to proceed. After taking the photo, I went back and chatted with her a bit, and she's a delight. She said that his is exactly as portrayed on the Dos Equis commercials, except his mother does not have a tattoo that says "Son" nor has he really done most of the other exploits for the iconic character. As it turns out, and I don't really know why, the photo that the other photographer took was not nearly as good as mine. I would never tell him that though.

 

 

 

Self portrait. Smaller view here.

Bokeh score 0/5

 

Sometimes you just want to minimize an ugly background. Sometimes it doesn't work.

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

Flora

 

Snakeweed grasshopper Hesperotettix viridis pratensis

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

I would have preferred a little more texture in the background, but this shows that even sharp and knobby foliage can be rendered mute with blur with the right settings. 105mm macro lens 1.5 ft away f/5.6 at 1/250 second at -0.33 exposure compensation. I love his blue tibia which you can see a bit better here.

 

 

Tulips

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

A very shallow depth of field used here. The background is a bit boring, but the proximity of the two tulip flowers with one mutes provides a nice internal contrast.

 

 

Fountain flowers

Bokeh score 3.25/5

 

This shot brings up a point that will be demonstrated in the food porn section below—that our brains don't like to see too much stuff that's out of focus in the foreground. There are effective photos that do just that and specifically tilt-shift photography, but if your able to "chimp" (looking at the LCD on the cam after you take a shot) and see that you have a lot of blurry foreground, change your settings a bit to expand the depth of field and take a few extra shots and you'll probably enjoy the ones with a sharp foreground.

 

 

New Mexico sunflowers

Bokeh score 3.5/5

 

Long range landscapes sometimes work with a limited depth of field, it depends on the simplicity of the background. The hints of blue in the sky is a lucky element.

 

 

Enchanted rock

Bokeh score 2.5/5

 

Another long range bokeh landscape shot that works. The arc of the yucca taking your eye to the clouds.

 

 

Caracol

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

As with many shots, this was an intentional construct. I wanted the Chichen Itza Caracol observatory to be subdued into the dreamy past.

 

 

Heart leaf

Bokeh score 1.75/5

 

Here's an example of bare branches adding some discordancy, there's not much that's smooth about the background, though the captured heart has iconic meaning.

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

Street / Extemporaneity   

Street photography requires a somewhat quicker evaluation and response than what I'm used to, but sometimes I get lucky, especially if the subject is inanimate or otherwise stationary.

 

Buddies? Larger view here.

Bokeh score 3/5

 

Classic elements of soft circular artifacts in the pleasing green background. I don't know why the street sign was imbedded in a concrete pillar, but I love the grafitti sticker and the various contrasting elements in the shot.

 

 

Bons et Baisers

Bokeh score 1/5

 

I love the sign and the sentiment, a message for a beloved. But juxtaposed to the image above you can see why it wouldn't score much for good bokeh, even with a soft background.

 

 

Starry night in Venice Beach. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 1/5

 

Not really a bokeh shot per se, though it has an extremely narrow depth of field. The set up was intentional to pay homage both to the street artist and to van Gogh, trying for a dream state.

 

 

Ahn Joo

Bokeh score 2.25/5

 

I love this shot too, part of an unpublished piece on Chinatown Summer nights in Los Angeles, an article that featured gourmet food trucks at the annual nighttime tradition in Chinatown. Again, not much for bokeh, but the creaminess in the reflection counts for a little.

 

 

At the Santa Monica Place open mall

Bokeh score 3/5 (subject 5/5)

 

With a long lens you can take candids as street photography without too much difficulty. Although not required, and people mistakenly believe otherwise, I do have permission to use this image. She fills most of the frame so there's not much room for a bokeh background. If there was more color in the background it would have been a better image, the white blows out the corners even with the subtle red matching the lipstick. It's not rare to find beauty in Santa Monica but this one is exceptional.

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

füd pr0n

 

Flamiche

Bokeh store 3.25/5

 

Lots of fun things going on here: colorful fruit, the text on the recipe rendered in the wine and the complimentary colors. A set up shot for a recipe.

 

 

Manchego fig appetizers

Bokeh score 3.5/5

 

Another set up shot for a recipe—it's one I've used for a long time and is always a surprising hit. Fig preserves and five-year-old manchego cheese with a dusting of freshly ground fine pepper on puff pastry. The light artifacts on the decorative roasted pepper jar are a little too sharp for my taste, but otherwise an ok shot. The recipe link is over on the left column along with some other food recipes.

 

 

Homemade pesto good : : front bokeh bad

Bokeh score 1/5

 

Use your feet, change your lens, change the depth of field to get the foreground in better focus. It's not a hard and fast rule, but our brains want to see soft focus in the background, not the foreground

 

 

Sweet potato chipotle apple soup

Bokeh score 1.75/5

 

Not the best bokeh shot, but included to show you how the pesto shot above fails.

 

 

Tomatoes about to be roasted

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

A nice soft blue and gold arc in the background combined with the interesting reflection makes for a decent food shot.

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

Commercial

 

head candy

Head candy

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

The bride has a nearly non profit avocation, earning enough money only to buy more supplies making head bands and hats for oncology clinics. She calls it Head Candy—it's a service to women enduring chemotherapy as a small way to brighten their lives. You can see some more samples here. This is a set up shot with a white drape background. It seems suspended, but if the lighting is correct and the flash is bounced and off the camera triggered remotely, the plexiglass support disappears.

 

 

Head candy 2

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

I really like this one, the creamy bokeh starting half way through the headband. I like the headband too, but it was one of the early ones and is long gone.

 

 

Wizard of Oz papier mâché. Larger view here.

Bokeh score 4/5

 

I was asked to take some shots inside a Santa Fe gift shop to be used on a new website. It's a tchotchke store, mostly, with a huge inventory and some very nice things, so the challenge was to highlight the individual products without allowing the background to intrude. This was accomplished by controlling the shooting angle to provide the best natural light, using narrow depth of field, boosting the ISO where the light was dim, and shooting with manual settings for speed and f/stop to suit the situation and to make sure the backgrounds were blurry.

 

 

Heartwing

Bokeh score 3/5

 

 

Amoré

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

Nicely rendered background, the the large light artifacts, even though blurry take some of interest away from the two guys sharing a kiss. 

 

 

Day of the Dead guitar ornament

Bokeh score 2/5

 

A decent shot for the website showing one of the many ornaments available at the store, which has a lot of DotD items to sell all year long.

 

 

Custom marbles

Bokeh score 3.25/5

 

I really like how the background colors softly blend into each other.

 

 

Bathing nun

Bokeh score 2.75/5

 

It was hard to get a decent shot of her (no pun intended) where she was located, but the background is muted enough to show the details of this Oaxaca carving. 

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

Pets

Photos of pets are a lot like like portraits of bipedal people. It's a bit surprising to find out that good portrait photographers use a rather long lens—sometimes a 200 or 300mm focal length. There are a couple of advantages to that—one, it reduces distortion. If you use a wider angle lens you run the risk of making the nose appear too large. While that might not be a problem with Aunt Mabel's Bichon Fries, Aunt Mabel might hit you with her umbrella if you make her look like Cyrano de Bergerac. Two, you have a little better control of the depth of field that will render relatively close backgrounds as bokeh or at least more out of focus

 

 

Bonnie

Bokeh score 2.5/5

 

Dearly departed Bonnie, who passed away shortly after the shot was a lovely Golden. She belonged to my brother and sister in law and always remembered me though we didn't visit often enough. It's a typical Christmas bokeh shot with the lights on the tree rendered in that common circular result. I think though that it loses a little bit because it's so often done.

 

 

Ennui Popper

Bokeh score 3.75/5

 

That all too common Oh, Please look. The pillows and blanket in the background are a good set of complimentary colors for dear Popper. She normally has a more loving look, she must not have been hungry here.

 

Conclusion

That's it guys. I hope you enjoyed the thoughts and the photos. As with the other posts on photography, I don't wish to claim any authority on the the process or techniques you employ. It's true with the concept of bokeh. You can find a near infinite number of photos that will show glorious examples of beauty, as well as some truly jarring and horrid examples. Your best method of employing the hardware and techniques is to get out and take the shots and start learning the settings that please you. It's best to please yourself first. 

 

As always, thanks very much for stopping by. If you got this far and you're still reading without eyes glazed over—congratulations.

 

I'll conclude with a couple of shots, one from a friend and used with her kind permission. I offer hers as a contrast to all the images in the rather long post above—often the simplest composition produces the most wonderful bokeh rendering. She's got talent.

 

print_me_31310348186

Tulips

Bokeh score 5/5

 

Image copyright © 2010 by J. J. Dalton, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

And in honor of the gift from Japan, for giving us a subjective aesthetic and a goal to shoot for, a final image taken a few years ago in Tokyo:

 

enjoying life

Larger view here.

 

 

 

BonsaiDouble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some additional thoughts on photography:

 

On Photography

Edit To One

Cracking Down on Farm Animal Paparazzi

Tilt-Shift, a Photoshop Technique

Photoshop Portrait Sandwich

Getting Over Myself

Get Closer

Getting It Out There

A Transition

 

 

 

all photos copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 by barry b. doyle 

unless noted otherwise · all rights reserved

 

 

 

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Comments

Type your comment below:
Ha! well, this is a bit surprising. I hadn't intended to hit "Publish" since I was still working on some elements, proofreading and resolving some formatting problems...so forgive me if I keep making some changes. So instead of hitting "Save edits and preview" I must have hit the "Update" button. Dumb. Or, you can come back tomorrow after I'm done with all that. It might take you that long just to read it anyway.
- wonderful article, bbd. The colours are so vibrant. As you might guess, I am especially fond of the picture of Bonnie. Some of her relatives have been cherished members of our family.
Bouquet Score: 12/12. (As in a dozen roses!)
Thank you so much Catherine, I remember showing you that pic before because of your love of Goldens. I appreciate you stopping by and getting through this long post!

(For everyone: it's ok to just look at the pics.)
mh, you are always gracious and generous. I wouldn't be surprised if Grace was your middle name. ; )
Barry, once I accidentally hit the update button but had no photos so I quickly took the post down. I know how much more complicated it becomes once photos are introduced and there is still more writing to do. I wasn't familiar with bokeh prior to looking at your wonderful photo essay and it's interesting to see how you rate your photos using that as a parameter. I see lots of useful information that is in an easy to understand form for photographers and I'll check back to see what additional text and/or photos you have added as you bring the post to completion (I should add that it looks very complete right now!).
Wow, what a wealth of information here… I've bookmarked it to read again and again… I'm so glad you included photos of birds and an insect, as well as an explanation of what makes a bokeh photo work best. Thank you so much for all of this! Have you written a book on photography that I might purchase?
John, thanks so much. It was mostly done, so still just doing some minor tweaks, you won't see substantive changes. I was just holding off a bit to think some more about what I'd written. I mentioned in one of the first paragraphs that the narrative was short, which turns out is inadvertently false. Including all of the html code I use for placing the pictures I noticed in the word processor I use that it was more than 7600 words! lordy. Thanks so much for coming by and for your kind words.

Janice, I do have a book out, but it's not about photography per se. It's called Dallas Iconography and is still on Amazon, though a bit cheaper now than when first published a couple of years ago. It's basically images of Dallas geared toward visitors and Dallas ex-pats, there's no instruction or analysis going on. You can see the nice cover though if you do a search on Amazon for the title. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Flabbergaster me ; bewilderbeesties I.
Far too much for a casual os look-by & yet, a person is entranced, and stays for an afternoon.
Popper's gorgeous, JJ Dalton is downright rude, in the best sense, and you are the maestro. Thank you.
r. for riffing on santa monica pier.

& some of the others ;-)
Beautiful, Barry! (L. loves the photos, too.) And thanks for the new word.
Kim, thank you for the kind words. Coming from an artist I admire very much, it means a lot to me. The link to the Santa Monica pier post is worth a look if you get a moment, it's not a long post at all!

Rob, thank you friend for that. I know L is a connoisseur of beauty, not only did she marry you after all, but I'm reminded of it every day.
There are some spectacular shots here, and I'm in love with the idea that having part of the shot out of focus is quantified and honored in Japan. The shot of Bonnie is perfect but there are many that I love. My only gripe - too many photos to talk about what each inspires. This is a whole gallery's-worth in one scroll.
What an amazing journey in images and more.
Ardee, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I too like that idea that bokeh is more than a concept in Japan, but something to be treasured. It's much like how they have various artists as national treasures in their country. It should be so here as well, but it would mean teaching differently while the children are still young. Sad that the arts in education is one of the first things cut when it's decided that more time needs to be spent of practicing to take a test. Your kind words mean a lot to me, since I love the art in you.

(I know I need to do a couple of things for you still... and they are sort of partly prepared...it's been so bloody hot in my shop...apologies, it will happen.)
Algis, thanks for stopping by, always a pleasure. And from a photographer I admire so much your words mean a lot. Thank you.
Just to prove how subjective art appreciation is, my favorite of these is the one of the Pyrex cup. Go figure. I also appreciate the anecdote about PSon tweaking your cheetah photo. Reminds me of a recent tweak you gave one of mine. Thanks for this, Barry.
Theses weer amazing, the animals, flowers ,the nun too. I'm so glad you shared.r
I'd say you scored generally too low. In my opinion, there are some more 5's in there, and not much bellow 4,1/2. I love the photo of Lonnie....and the clarity is superb in all the images.
Julie, thanks so much. Your comment is a double bonus for me since I get to hang out with you on occasion and we always have fun. It's funny you picked the pyrex shot...there were actually better photos than that in the post that it came from, the one on home made pesto. And if Colin worked on any of your photos with post processing you'd only collaborate with me out of pity. xo love you friend

hugs, thanks for stopping by, and for slogging through it all!
ha Gary! Given that you are a professor of some renown with extraordinary talent, that's a lovely comment. Words like that from the Renaissance man that you are mean the world. Thank you friend.
I'm heading back for a second, much slower read through ... just wanted to say please! Share the techniques. I adore processing tips and tricks.
I'm glad you mentioned the footwork. It's amazing the mental battles I have with that. Somehow this gives me permission to adjust myself better.

Been looking forward to this post. Always more to learn!
Kai, thanks for stopping by, I hope you get something to take away that will help.

Harry, you know we share something here, and I have to say something that you probably already know. It really helped me to write this and put it together while listening to Andrew Roth's Natural Sounds of Japan. Actually I even combined his other album Natural Sounds of Costa Rica into one playlist. It set the mood, and in addition since it's been so bloody hot I've been cautious about letting Popper stay out to long in the back yard, so she comes to sit on the window sill in my office where she can see an occasional lizard on the bricks and some birds in the nearby bushes...much like we sit and watch an aquarium. So the ambient forest noises are nice for her too. (When she's not around I sometimes listen to Red House Painters (Ocean Beach) or Sun Kil Moon.) Thanks for coming by. It's interesting that we often have to give ourselves permission, I'm not immune to that either.

It took a while to put this together, about three days of writing and putting photos together, formatting and layout. I appreciate your appreciation.
it's late and i only had time [yawn] to look at the pics - will be back in the morning to read and drooool again. but had to say it's always great to see so many photos in one of your posts. first impressions (and not for the first time): love the harpy and the cuckoo. didn't read what your scoring method is but will always score a popper pic as a 5, so pfffft. and the santa fe tchotchke shot of dorothy and her pals has been a fave of mine since i first saw it. and then there are the kissing people, and how could that not be no. 1?
Dumb is not a word I would ever attribute to you or your work, unfinished, unedited or not. Silly boy! It's all stunning! I don't know if my brain could assimilate a more refined version of this on a good day. Your contribution here is over the top, visceral and tantalizing, as usual. You spoil us mere amateurs.
Sometimes I am distracted by what I now know is "bokeh," and sometimes I am entranced. You've helped clear the haze for me. More than that, you've given me a lot to consider this morning. The poetry of bokeh in the mind of Alzheimers, in the blur of life, in the clarity of details. Thank you. r
Gonna ha-e to come back tomorrow, or later in the week (I'm bookmarking it) anyway, since I'm just idling thru OS o-er coffee before I take off for parts known but somewhat distant, but a quick glance is exciting .... definitely back to this later.
Hugely informative, generous, and just plain delightful. Your scoring system really helped me to understand the concept here as well.

And what I wouldn't give to have a photo of myself with The Most Interesting Man in the World!
I'll get to responding to the latest comments in a little bit as I have to attend to some things this morning, but wanted to quickly respond to one:

Jeanette, thanks so much for your kind thoughts. But I have to say, and you might have guessed this was coming, that you have had many pics taken with TMIMITW. His name is Jim. (Of course I know what you mean, just look at the big smile on the bride's face.) xo Thanks.
Thanks bbd, but besides amazing your lesson and the reasons give photography all the measure and depth that so many do not understand or fail to take advantage of . Focusing on photography one soon learns when reading your blog that image making is more than just pushing the shutter. The confounding bit is that sometimes just pushing the shutter also gives us something that we cannot quite put our finger on and this is the magic we call call photography because it's boundries are wide and the exposure that goes with it is flexible.
I will come back another time to read thru all the commentary, but this was so interesting -- particularly this morning as I was hunting through some shots -- puzzling over "unintentional bokeh" in the foreground (!) Food shots, uck.
I confess to being a slapdash workman (hack?) with a camera -- and not a very good student of photography. For me, the jpeg format and a few basic photoshop tools cover a myriad of sins... anyway. This was a very interesting - and generous - post. And boy, do I relate to the frustration of loading and revising images and firing off an "update" - only to discover you've published your working draft. grrrrr.
wonderful, informative and beautiful article. i learn so much from your posts! i feel that i get a little more information each day from learning new ways of looking at the world around me after i read once of your posts. thanks for giving me a new word and a better understanding of this techinique. and i love love love that photo of Fred fishing. so much character to the photo and to the man.
Candace, you know, with the time stamp they put on each comment it takes me a while to figure out when that comment happened, not that I usually care, but sometimes it's interesting. I think scupper, for example, relishes the quiet solitude and small noises at three o'clock in the morning when she makes some of her comments...or she has terrible insomnia. Thanks for staying up late and hope you get back for a closer look. I love how you see things, it's always a pleasure to have you here. xo

Kate, it really isn't bad uploading the images, per se, since I do all my composing offline. I had the dickens of a time with the Kanji script though...it just wouldn't render the way it was intended, so while I can type in Kanji on my Mac in the word processor I use, when pasted to the compose window on OS it just resulted in gibberish. The same was true with the long o macron on the word boke. Finally I just made little jpgs of those words in screen captures and uploaded the pics to be inline graphics with the text. I wish the OS backend software was a little more accommodating. I'm sure you run into similar problems with the Chinese ideograms all the time. Thanks for stopping by.

Cathy, you are consistent with your affection and praise, which is just a wonderful gift from your hand to me. Thank you so much. xo

scupper, see the comment above to Candace (made with affection) about you. I wonder what some of your beautiful work would be like if you translated the concept of photography bokeh to the what your black on white words conjure...wait...that's exactly what you do. Reading your words sometimes requires something nearby to hold on to and then all the swirling thoughts that what is seen evokes from what is not comes to bear and adds to the whole. You get a 5/5 for poetry bokeh.

Myriad, safe travels to you, come back whole and refreshed.

Again, Jeanette, always a pleasure to have you stop by.

Algis, thanks so much for returning and expanding on your previous thoughts. You are very gracious with your words and I am in your debt. I know you get the sense of this, and for what it means beyond what we see on this page.

Vivian, always nice to see you here, and I'm very glad you found it interesting, thanks so much.

kmb, you know I'm a big fan and devotee of your own photography art...I'll often stop by your OS page to see if you've ever taken down the word "hobbyist" next to the word "photographer" in your bio...as I've suggested before. Nope, it's still there. You have more than latent talent or a dabbling that would describe it as a hobby, you have an artist's soul and eye in your work. Taking all that into account, it's no wonder I gain sustenance from your words when you stop by. Thank you.
This is all so interesting. It makes me wish I had stuck it out with a college mania for photography. That rainbow lorikeet is astounding! I also love the custom marbles, among everything else, like the tomatoes! You are inspiring.
This post is as lovely as any Ikebana. If OS had a Sunday magazine, this should make cover story. I refreshed the page several times to get to see all of it. (Whoever named them "servers?")

I know that camera raw interface well, as well as the myriad ways to process an image. I'll stir up no controversy, I'm sure, to say that you are your own East German skating judge, as it were (10 - 10 - 10 - 10 - 10 - 6.8 - 10).

Guaging by your scoring of Ennui Popper, I'd say you're a half to a full point low. I have learned so much on these pages.
Mumblety, thank you for your gracious compliment, and for your perseverance in this post.

Stacey, on your latest post with the beautiful portrait of Moesita you exhibited a wonderful mastery of Bokeh, and I think dear Moesita has a very iconic Japanese look, which is quite fitting. Your lovely comment is high praise, and I'm in your debt for it.
Breathtaking for so many reasons and in so many ways. Lovely images all for such an afternoon. Thank you.
Gorgeous stuff, as always, Barry.
Merci *bokeh* for this super post, Barry. I've been reading and studying the photos for a while, trying to understand this new concept. Your "edit to one" has been something I practice since you posted it, but I suppose bokeh must be more subjective than "E->1" since I find myself disagreeing with some of your bokeh scores. Thank you for yet another informative post with beautiful photos.
♥R
Oh, so great! My favorite is the giraffe, she's so graceful and calm.
annaliese, I'm glad you think so, thank you very much.

trilogy, xo thanks

Fusun, it is indeed a subjective thing, your choices of your own photographs are winners as are anyone else's. Thanks for coming by and for your thoughtful comment.

Christina, thanks for that...I have a lot of photos of giraffes but this is the one that fit this theme from the ones I have. This one wouldn't have worked here, but fun still--mother and daughter in a pushmepullyou pose:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbd/1295688379/

but this one might have:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbd/5082288616/

Thanks for your nice words.
Ah, the artist divulges his secrets! I just knew the tulip would score that high. What amazes me is the success you are able to get with wildlife shots -- subjects that are not at all interested in assisting the photographer, and may, in fact, actively attempt to sabotage his efforts! The bird shots are just astonishing, especially the gray-headed kingfisher that rated so high on the Bokeh scale. Wow!
bbd,
What stunning photography!
Steve, as you might expect, it takes a lot of patience and waiting to get a good bird shot. But then, you have to be ready to shoot, which readiness is a challenge when you've been waiting a long time. It takes some practice to balance that inherent conflict.

Thanks for coming by, always a pleasure.
What an amazing post! I was captured by the beauty and the information provided. You covered much ground here, BBD and I know I will review this several times this week. What an incredible amount of work and the photos were so varied and all so spectacular. Thanks for the giving me the opportunity to travel along with your passions.
Thanks Diary, glad you enjoyed it. Stop by anytime.
Barry thanks for your reply on my comment...You are kind, and I hope I can be that person you are talking to, meanwhile, I keep scribbling, ever persistent....
I almost forgot to mention I really admire the amount of skill and just downright HARD WORK that goes into your pieces here on OS. Thanks for the artistry and fortune you bring for all of us.
Gary, thanks for coming back and the response. You are indeed, and more, that I briefly described. And I think because of the work you do routinely, crafting beauty from ideas, you know exactly the arc of time and effort that would go into the work we do. Thanks so much for your kind words.
There so much to look at here and I love different photos for different reasons (bokeh score didn't influence me.) Even though it got an averag-ish score, I'm partial towards the Guira cuckoo. When I look at it, I'm instantly reminded of its dinosaur ancestors. And the photo of the snakeweed grasshopper has me wondering who the little bug is in the disk part of the flower (and are they having a conversation.)

I eagerly look forward to learning how the cheetah was rendered.
Barry, My God your photos are always so lucid and revealing. I will be spending some time here both with your words and images. Thanks for the intro to all things Bokeh. Because of its spelling I first thought it was a Canadian thing. :) From the bird feathers to the Bathing Nun this post was just exquisite. How generous of you to continue to share your photography passion and talent with us.
Barry, I have always loved that effect since I first learned how to do it by accident. It's nice to know it has a better name than accentuating-the-subject-by-slightly-blurring-the-background, which is a real mouthful.

-john
Marcelle, your presence is always a delight. I'm glad I mentioned in the post that the subjectivity mileage might vary, and I would always consider your artistic opinion as a gift and something I should learn from. When I was putting the post together a thought went through my poriferous brain that I ought to make that metaphor walk on all fours that those two species seem to be getting along just fine. Though that just might mean that vegetarians are a nicer lot across the animále spectrum. The thought vanished in the process until you made it rise again. Thanks for coming by. xo

Scarlett, I guess it's possible that it sprang from Canadian soil, there are so many Japanese in VBC that maybe the some photo artist thought it up there. I confess that while I know it's provenance here in English, I don't know the Japanese etymology. Thank you so much for all your lovely words here, and your consistent support. xo

John, it's so nice to see you here! We're both a bit long in the tooth for OS, and I miss your writing here. My member number is 198 and I remember yours being right around 300 or so. It's nice to know that there are others (I know there are many) who know of the term and use it in their art. Thanks for stopping by. Please start writing here again, or at least cross posting if you're doing so elsewhere.
Thanks for the lesson, the discussion, the photos, and the challenge. I think the dog, Bonnie, deserves a higher score. I disagree that all front bokeh is bad. I made my own bokeh to save a photo. I was not using flash, indoors, and the subject moved during the exposure, which left the background in better focus than the subject. I made layers, separated the subject into her own layer, and manually blurred the background. It worked successfully and made it look 3D.

It's always a pleasure to absorb your expertise. You are dearly appreciated, Barry.
Hi Barry, good to be back. I can't remember my party number, but I think that you're in the right neighborhood.

I plan to hang around for awhile and as my wife and I ar eplanning a trip to Norther France next year, pour les huîtres, I might actually get a chance to see Mont Saint-Michel for myself - but thanks to you, I look at it every day.
Scarlett, I did some preliminary searching and found this snippet. From the Glossary of Owarai terms:


ボケ (boke [boh-keh or boh-kay]). From the verb bokeru 惚ける or 呆ける, which carries the meaning of "senility" or "air headed-ness," and is reflected in this performer's tendency for misinterpretation and forgetfulness. The boke is the "simple-minded" member of an owarai kombi ("tsukkomi and boke", or vice versa) that receives most of the verbal and physical abuse from the "smart" tsukkomi because of the boke's misunderstandings and slip-ups. The tsukkomi (突っ込み) refers to the role the second comedian plays in "butting in" and correcting the boke's errors. It is common for tsukkomi to berate boke and hit them on the head with a swift smack; traditionally, tsukkomi often carried a fan as a multi-purpose prop, one of the uses for which was to hit the boke with. Boke and tsukkomi are loosely equivalent to the roles of "funny man" or "comic" (boke) and "straight man" (tsukkomi) in the comedy duos of western culture. Outside of owarai, boke is sometimes used in common speech as an insult, similar to "idiot" in English, or baka in Japanese. Source here.

Which is interesting, but not what I was looking for...will keep searching.


Diana, oh I agree that there is no hard and fast rule on front bokeh, in fact said that in the post. I think I was trying to make the point about what our brains prefer to see, and it hearkens back to how the optics in our eyes work, being processed by the bio computer brain we have, that when we look at things in real life, and absent stigmatism or other skewing effects, we subliminally tend to prefer softer things in the background and not the foreground. But there are instances, such as you describe, where wonderful art is done. Another example is how tilt shift photography is done whether by emulation in Photoshop or using a Perspective Control lens. In TS photography it's often the case that much of the foreground is out of focus. But then think what happens in our brains when we come across it. It insists of viewing a good tilt shift image as if it's a representation of a small model. So, I think I was just thinking out loud on how our brain reacts, not on the efficacy or beauty of having something out of focus in the front that results in something pleasing, that perhaps we're conditioned that way. I'd love to see the image you're talking about.

And I have to return the lovely compliment you've given. You have enormous artistic talent in a broad range of media, and I love what you do, so your lovely words mean an awful lot to me. (And you are deeply appreciated too.) Thank you. xo


And thank you again John, I've sent that image to several friends, and even sold it on occasion. I hope you make the trip to Normandy to see it for yourself, stay if you can for a day or two there, have one of their famous omelets and enjoy the beauty. Take pictures and share too!
The lady in the pink blouse in the post
http://open.salon.com/blog/dianaani/2011/05/09/doll_face
is the one I "saved" with the methods mentioned above.
My shots are so snappy in comparison to any of yours, but I am happy when I get anything like what I was hoping for.
Thanks for expanding on the concept of bokeh, it seems to have a few interesting angles. Also I like the idea of considering what the out of focus and "creaminess" (or in my case -- blurriness) adds to the photo. Now I can rework a flaw into artistic intention. ;-)
Barry, I am so pleased to see how many others also thought that you scored yourself way too low! Is it unseemly to say "I told you so"? : )

May I say here that I have a long list of favorite photos from this small collection, and that one of my favorite favorites is the flamingo, whose bokehed background feathers as do her feathers. And the the way the greenery behind the gray-headed kingfisher looks like an ocean wave breaking-- this is another favorite favorite. As I have said, and will say again I am sure, your work is lush. That's my best word for it: full and sobbing with color and light and meaning. Your posts here are such a delight for the eye and a smart read for the mind.
Back when film was still in vogue, I use to do lots of black and white studies...and always experimented with what we called "depth of field."

You've taken this to a whole new plane.

Great post, thanks.
Beautiful photography and so informative too.
You blow my mind. ~r
I was hoping one of your photos would make the cover! I was rooting for the giraffe, but they're all great.
Back again now after being busy with other things this afternoon.

Diana, thanks for sharing that image, and I agree, that's a wonderful image, even with the slight movement in the main subject. I clicked on it and it brought me to the Flickr page hosting the larger size. But I think we were reaching for the same thing, or concept. The image shown shows the foreground in focus with the rest either movement or the softness from depth of field. (She looks like a lovely lady too). Lovely work on the layers too, very well done especially given her hair which you handled very nicely.

Scarlett, no, no flaws...creamy bokeh even if unintentional. Actually, I know you'll know the difference.

JJ-D, as far as the rating, I can't see it any other way given the billions who have cameras. I think I've mentioned in another post that when you consider that there are 7 billion people in the world, and counting cameras in cell phones, probably 1/3 to 1/2 that number have a camera of some sort. So from the one who can't seem to do anything right with photography, to the most exquisite avant garde artist, I reside on that spectrum somewhere above average. It's even hard for me to say that. It's not just the Biblical principle implied in the parable that it's better to take a seat at the end of the table and be asked to move up, than to sit near the head and asked to move down--I just know and know of so many wonderful artists who are blazingly out of my league.

And thank you for both enjoying both the words and the images, which means a lot to me and for your lovely and gracious comments.

Frank, it's so nice to have you here, feel free to come back anytime as a respite from the sturm and drang of political thought and contention. I too have had many images in B&W, from my early days getting them developed at Kmart, through developing and printing my own, to having B&W film push processed in color tanks now. It's been a ride.

Joan, I hope you meant that in a good way. =) xo

Christina, thanks for revisiting, I'm happy and honored just to have it up there.
Stunning photos and fascinating lesson on bokeh, a word I had never heard before. Your photo essays are the perfect blend of visual and intellectual.
This is a wonderful combination of information, concept and beauty. I am sorry I am late to this BBD.
Too many favs to list. I love the concept of bokeh and plan to employ it mindfully.
This was fascinating, and a well-deserved EP! I wish I knew one iota of what you do about photography - and had even a miligram of your talent.
Accidental "publish" - yeah, been there and done that on occasion. ;)

Since I first started seeing photo articles about bokeh, I've had mixed feelings. So many of the examples have shown a seemingly arbitrary plane of focus with too much out-of-focus foreground - annoying to the eye. Seems like it's become a conceptual art-type trap for too many people who don't have a clue as artists.

You presented so many refreshing alternatives to that and described the concept well. Like minimalist architecture, it's one of those things that doesn't quite work unless it's done really well. You've provided some great examples. Well done.
Barry - I am so happy this got a well-deserved EP. Your photography is so lush and inviting that I want to crawl inside some of those photographs and just revel in the sheer wonder of them. Every time that I think I've found an all-time favorite, you spin my head around with another outstanding photo that makes my breath catch in my throat. Wondrous, awe-inspiring, incredible - am I getting my point across that I think your photography is genius?

And your instructive narrative on the use of bokeh (a term I'd never heard before and now adore) was pitch-perfect. Thank you for all the hard work you put into your posts, Barry. You are simply an amazing man.

PS I tried to choose a favorite, but it was impossible. No way to narrow it down to just one.

Rated.
This is wonderful! You make me afraid to take pictures, or at least to show them to anyone! If I keep reading your posts, maybe I'll eventually learn.
Karin, I'm very appreciative of your comment, mostly what I do is post pictures with some corresponding narrative, and for you to support both sides means a lot, especially a post that delves into an individual's subjective viewing. Thank you.

Rita, nice to see you again, and thanks for stopping by. I'd love to see what you come up with having that as a goal.

Alysa, a delight to have you stop by. It's good we all have different strengths, your talents shine.

bpb, I understand what you're saying. I feel similarly with HDR renditions, was curious about it when it first came out, but quickly turned agains it, not just for it's ubiquity, it just seemed too over the top and in your face. I really appreciate your analysis. Thanks so much.

Kimberly, I'm delighted and humbled with your response, thank you very much dear friend.

HL, given that spectrum I was talking about in one of my comments, and given, for example, the talent I see in my own son, we're probably quite close on that spectrum of abilities. And the intention to learn is important...I know I never get off the learning curve, even on basic principles. Thanks for your kind words.
Wonderful post, gorgeous images, great info. I would buy this post dinner, but since I could not, I rated it. :-)
To take the architecture analogy a little further, I often walk or ride past several Mies van der Rohe buildings in Chicago's Loop, as well as many architectural wannabes. When the idea is expressed in a simple, elegant, refined way, it can be exquisite. This post office building is a great example. The photos don't do it justice.

The
Inland Steel Building is one of the few imitators that succeeds with the same level of simple elegance. It's sleek, light and airy - substantial and ethereal at the same time.

Most of the others have a clumsy feel by comparison. The proportions, materials, scale and/or overall feel just feel like second rate knock-offs. Too many of our modern glass and steel boxes fall into this category.

The best of the bokeh images have that same kind of elegance.
Holy crap! This was gorgeous and enlightening. Thank you! You never disappoint.

If only most cinematographers and directors took as much care of their visual work-product. (Not that some don’t, it’s just that, in general, motion pictures don’t seem to include as much beauty – or even a cohesive aesthetic – as one would imagine they might.)
Marianne, ha! well, this post would have been ready for some smooching in exchange for that dinner, and is disappointed in having to settle for a rating. Thanks!

bpb, thanks for those examples, and I just love the post office. I think I'm like you in appreciating the subliminal but difficult art of minimalism. It's a rare achievement to have such beauty in large forms.

David, thank you very much for your kind comment. It's interesting that you have an insider's take on the process of that profession, one that would run counter to the ethic I would presume.

And I was very moved by your latest post on the lovely Jasmine, I'm so sorry for your loss, she was a rare beauty and your love for her as beautiful.
Loved these pictures. The harpy eagle head on portrait is my favorite - I never imagined so much character out of a bird! Jacob was enthralled with the grasshopper pic - he asked "How did he ever get a snapshot of that?!" He also loved the photo of Popper. Popper is always a crowd pleaser. I did read the info about the photography, but that's way over my head; I will share it with Justin. Thanks Barry!
Your words and pictures are stunning; I've been reading and admiring them over several days but most of this is over my head and the concept of 'bokeh' is hard for me to grasp. So I'll relate this to something I do understand better - food - and call it 'umai.' Japanese for 'delicious.'
I love your captures. It's so wonderful and lovely. It's good in my eyes and it made me smile while looking at them. BEAUTIFUL INDEED!
I should have clarified. I loved this concept in photography and kept reading about it online after I read your article. It appears to me to stream into life and how we look at things in the foreground and background, how we focus. I found the discussion of the aperture shape and distance changes interesting also. Distortion as beauty, and it certainly is.
Fantastic!.... I have just started my own photography so truly appreciate this....
Winston Churchill and an aide were once walking along the Thames embankment when the aide pointed to the several bends in the river and declared them "extraordinary." "No," replied Churchill, "all rivers wind. The word you want is 'remarkable.'" He was correct (although many modern dictionaries list 'extraordinary' as a syn. for 'remarkable). I relate that tale so that you know that I chose with care the word that best describes your blog--its words and photos: Extraordinary.
I've returned several times Barry - but apparently my timing has been poor to access
comments. Does anyone else experience the same with OS in *all* navigation?

And it seems each time time I return additional comments with all the appropriate an fitting English praise words are used by others. I may have missed brilliant so I'll claim it for now my friend for you And the behind the scene work effort and preparation is equally "c'est fabuleux"... Fortunate for me - the only French I know...
I've returned several times Barry - but apparently my timing has been poor to access
comments. Does anyone else experience the same with OS in *all* navigation?

And it seems each time time I return additional comments with all the appropriate an fitting English praise words are used by others. I may have missed brilliant so I'll claim it for now my friend for you And the behind the scene work effort and preparation is equally c'est fabuleux"... Fortunate for me - the only French I know...
Thanks for your lucid piece on bokeh. It's the first time I've really come to understand the concept. Explaining the language source of the term added real life to the topic. My compliments to you on your writing and photo skills.