Over emphasizing bokeh

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
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calson
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Over emphasizing bokeh
8 months ago

There has been an explosion of interest and almost a fetish over bokeh in recent years. Ten years ago you could ask 100 pro photographers what the word meant and most would not know or care.

When I shoot in a studio or other indoor setting I could care less about this aspect of a lens as I have complete control over my background. I can move the subject(s) so even in a public building I can change the background or I can change the position of the camera so that without moving the subjects the background is changed.

I can shoot from a lower position so that distracting elements in the background are not visible in the frame and I can do the same thing by getting a higher position and shooting down on my subjects. This also provides an unusual perspective and often makes for more interesting pictures. Think of the cliche shot of a wedding couple on a spiral staircase. How much does the lens bokeh enter into the picture?

Even outdoors with a problem background the change in camera and photographer elevation still applies as doe the ability to move the subjects to where there is a less distracting background or a more interesting one that complements the image. Outdoors with more space a longer focal length lens is also practical and with longer focal lengths the background blurring can be achieved with much larger apertures.

With the majority of pictures bokeh plays no role at all and even in those comparatively few where it is visible, if it is the aspect of the image that is most apparent to the viewer than the photographer has failed to capture the essence of the subject.

In deciding between two lenses in a situation the aspect of the bokeh of one compared to another is not on the list. If I choose the 105mm f2 DC lens instead of the 85mm f1.4 it is for reasons of working distance and the option of using the DC and has nothing to do with the bokeh produced by either lens.

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