Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?

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guitarjeff
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Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
9 months ago

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.”

i agree with this first part.  It is the blur due to shallow dof.

Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

This above is the gibberish part.  A "THING" cannot be an aesthetic opinion, if it were, then you could say a thing exists for one person if he likes it,and doesn't exist for someone else if they don't.  To say it is subjective is really saying nothing about it at all that could be considered a definition.

A quality is an aspect of something. An aspect or quality of something has definable parameters. Never have accepted the artsy definition thrown around because a definition has to be definite, or it isn't definition.

If Bokeh "is" the quality, then is it a sliding scale, meaning one person can say there is bokeh in a photo while another says there is none at all? Saying bokeh is the quality is not a definition at all. That's why I define it as simply the blur due to shallow depth of field. Then we can discuss whether we actually like the bokeh (the blur due to dof), or not. We can decide whether we like the various "Qualities" of the bokeh (blur due to dof) or not, but there will be no argument on whether the bokeh actually exists or not, it will have a concrete definition. In other words, the definition will be definite.

So the standard attempt at a definition appears to be gibberish. Isn't bokeh simply the Japanese word for blur? Anyway, I have set the photography world straight and saved the day for logically minded folks.

The Davinator
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

What a long post about something you don't understand or grasp.

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guitarjeff
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to The Davinator, 9 months ago

Dave Luttmann wrote:

What a long post about something you don't understand or grasp.

And I notice you offer no explanation for your statement, noted.  And long post?  I have seen far far longer.

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bigpigbig
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

guitarjeff wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

What a long post about something you don't understand or grasp.

And I notice you offer no explanation for your statement, noted. And long post? I have seen far far longer.

Put simply, like it or not, bokeh, IS the quality of the out of focus areas.

There are several aspects to bokeh that make it more or less desirable.

It has NOTHING to do with how out of focus something is. Only the quality of the blur circles (that might not even be circular, but that is another story).

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tesilab
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

There is good bokeh or bad bokeh. Not more or less bokeh, though evidently, if everything is in focus, there is nothing to judge. Yes it is true that it comes from the word for blur, but it is a photographic term used to discuss what that blur looks like, not how much there is.

More specific adjectives that besides "good" or "bad" might be neutral, smooth, hard edged, doubled, nervous, etc. There is also "onion" bokeh, describing apparent concentric rings in an image. If you are using, say a Petzval lens or something similarly uncorrected you would see "swirly" bokeh.

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Ed B
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

guitarjeff wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

What a long post about something you don't understand or grasp.

And I notice you offer no explanation for your statement, noted. And long post? I have seen far far longer.

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke. It became popular in the U.S. in the late 1990's when some photography magazine started using it to describe the quality of the out of focus areas of a picture.

If the out of focus areas look good you'd say it had good bokeh if the out of focus areas looked bad, you say the picture had bad bokeh or the lens produced bad bokeh.

It's all in the eye of the beholder. It's simply a descriptive term.

I, personally, always thought it sounded a little effeminate. 

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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to tesilab, 9 months ago

There is good bokeh or bad bokeh. Not more or less bokeh, though evidently, if everything is in focus, there is nothing to judge. Yes it is true that it comes from the word for blur, but it is a photographic term used to discuss what that blur looks like, not how much there is.

More specific adjectives that besides "good" or "bad" might be neutral, smooth, hard edged, doubled, nervous, etc. There is also "onion" bokeh, describing apparent concentric rings in an image. If you are using, say a Petzval lens or something similarly uncorrected you would see "swirly" bokeh.

Thank you. I don't really know where the confusion is

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Matthew Miller
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actually, the first part of your quoted definition is wrong
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

guitarjeff wrote:

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.”

The above isn't strictly correct, and that's what's tripping you up. Bokeh is visual quality of the out of focus blur in any situation. You just can't see it very easily when there isn't much. (Narrow aperture, or not shooting a subject.)

i agree with this first part. It is the blur due to shallow dof.

No; it is the appearance of the blur, not the existence of it.

Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

Or it is the not-pleasing aesthetic quality.

This above is the gibberish part. A "THING" cannot be an aesthetic opinion, if it were, then you could say a thing exists for one person if he likes it,and doesn't exist for someone else if they don't. To say it is subjective is really saying nothing about it at all that could be considered a definition.

Bokeh isn't subjective. It just is. "Good bokeh" or "bad bokeh" are subjective to a degree, although there are certain aspects which are generally agreed to be one or the other.

If Bokeh "is" the quality, then is it a sliding scale, meaning one person can say there is bokeh in a photo while another says there is none at all? Saying bokeh is the quality is not a definition at all. That's why I define it as simply the blur due to shallow depth of field.

That's fine, although don't put too much emphasis on "shallow". And, again, it is a word specifically referring to the appearance of the blur, not the existence. People who say that a photograph taken wide open with a fast lens "has bokeh" are, strictly speaking, misusing the term (because it implies that photographs where the bokeh is less apparent do not have any, which is not usually the case except when the entire photo is completely in focus).

Then we can discuss whether we actually like the bokeh (the blur due to dof), or not. We can decide whether we like the various "Qualities" of the bokeh (blur due to dof) or not, but there will be no argument on whether the bokeh actually exists or not, it will have a concrete definition. In other words, the definition will be definite.

That is already the case.

So the standard attempt at a definition appears to be gibberish. Isn't bokeh simply the Japanese word for blur?

It is derived from the Japanese word for blur, but has its own meaning. Kind of like how "hardware" in German means computer hardware, and a hardware store selling hammers, hinges, and lumber is therefore pretty funny.

Anyway, I have set the photography world straight and saved the day for logically minded folks.

Or..... you have made a up a problem, and then declared that the thing which was already solved is the solution. Which puts us right where we started, except for maybe you will read this and come out a step ahead.

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Conrad567
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

Bokeh is the quality of out of focus rendering.  As this is completely opinion based, there is no firm definition. I for one prefer a softer smoother rendering, others prefer the squashed onion look of the old Jupiter lenses.  But either way it is up to each person and of course much to do with the kind of shot you are taking.  My all time favorite lens is the Leica 35mm Summicron.  It is known as the king of Bokeh for a reason...IMHO.

Leica Summicron at f2.0

35mm Summicron wide open

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carlk
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Re: In focus area: IQ. >> Out of focus area: Bokeh.
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

You say IQ of the picture is good/bad and Bokeh of the picture is good/bad.  Simple as that.

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whiteyblack
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

The "f2.8 or wider" part is not really accurate.

Some of the best bokeh I've seen was in a photo taken by a 400mm f5.6 on a APS-C camera focused on a small subject at close range.

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kjhants
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to whiteyblack, 9 months ago

use a mirror lens & you will recognise unpleasant bokeh.

regds

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Les Lammers
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

guitarjeff wrote:

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.”

i agree with this first part. It is the blur due to shallow dof.

Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

This above is the gibberish part. A "THING" cannot be an aesthetic opinion, if it were, then you could say a thing exists for one person if he likes it,and doesn't exist for someone else if they don't. To say it is subjective is really saying nothing about it at all that could be considered a definition.

A quality is an aspect of something. An aspect or quality of something has definable parameters. Never have accepted the artsy definition thrown around because a definition has to be definite, or it isn't definition.

If Bokeh "is" the quality, then is it a sliding scale, meaning one person can say there is bokeh in a photo while another says there is none at all? Saying bokeh is the quality is not a definition at all. That's why I define it as simply the blur due to shallow depth of field. Then we can discuss whether we actually like the bokeh (the blur due to dof), or not. We can decide whether we like the various "Qualities" of the bokeh (blur due to dof) or not, but there will be no argument on whether the bokeh actually exists or not, it will have a concrete definition. In other words, the definition will be definite.

So the standard attempt at a definition appears to be gibberish. Isn't bokeh simply the Japanese word for blur? Anyway, I have set the photography world straight and saved the day for logically minded folks.

Everything you ever wanted to know. Given the options in PP I don't worry about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

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John Gellings
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to bigpigbig, 9 months ago

I'd rather worry about content and framing... 20 years ago nobody cared about bokeh.

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slimandy
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

guitarjeff wrote:

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.”

i agree with this first part. It is the blur due to shallow dof.

Not really. The blur you get has to do with focal length, distance to subject, distance to Bg etc. just as much as it does DoF. You can get more blur with a longer lens even if DoF stays the same. Some people confuse the extra blur with bokeh.

Bokeh is the quality of the blur, not the amount. For example, is the blur soft or fuzzy; how have highlights been treated? You can't really define it as some people like one look more than another.

Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

That's a better way of looking at it but I'm still not sure you have a good understanding of what it means. It has nothing to do with DoF other than you will get more blur with shallower DoF all other things being equal, but that is the amount of blur, not the quality.

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darngooddesign
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to guitarjeff, 9 months ago

Bokeh is absolutely definable as the out of focus areas caused by depth of field.

You can have more or less, which is user controlled.

You can have good and bad, which is a characteristic of the lens. For example, I think this is bad bokeh, like someone blurred an area and then ran a really harsh sharpness filter in photoshop. While good/bad is subjective if most people consider the quality of bokeh from this lens to be unpleasant you can then objectively say that the lens provides bad bokeh.

When people say a photo has nice bokeh, they are referring to a combination of how much and how good the quality of the bokeh is to them.

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The Davinator
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to John Gellings, 9 months ago

John Gellings wrote:

I'd rather worry about content and framing... 20 years ago nobody cared about bokeh.

Ummm...we most certainly did.  It has been a consideration in lens choice as far back as I can remember.  Obviously content and framing are important....but if the out of focus areas are distracting, it's time for a different lens.

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slimandy
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to darngooddesign, 9 months ago

darngooddesign wrote:

Bokeh is absolutely definable as the out of focus areas caused by depth of field.

No it isn't. It is the quality of the blur.

You can have more or less, which is user controlled.

No, you can have more or less blur but not more or less bokeh, and the amount of blur is not just governed by depth of field. A longer lens will give more blur for the same framing and same depth of field.

You can have good and bad, which is a characteristic of the lens. For example, I think this is bad bokeh, like someone blurred an area and then ran a really harsh sharpness filter in photoshop. While good/bad is subjective if most people consider the quality of bokeh from this lens to be unpleasant you can then objectively say that the lens provides bad bokeh.

I agree this is bad, but it is subjective and some people might like it.

When people say a photo has nice bokeh, they are referring to a combination of how much and how good the quality of the bokeh is to them.

They are not quite accurate then. They should only be referring aesthetic quality of the blur. Shallower DoF may affect the quality of the bokeh by giving more blur but so will other factors such as narrow field of view.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/bokeh

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Les Lammers
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to John Gellings, 9 months ago

+1 To each their own.

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guitarjeff
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Re: Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?
In reply to bigpigbig, 9 months ago

bigpigbig wrote:

guitarjeff wrote:

Dave Luttmann wrote:

What a long post about something you don't understand or grasp.

And I notice you offer no explanation for your statement, noted. And long post? I have seen far far longer.

Put simply, like it or not, bokeh, IS the quality of the out of focus areas.'

Wrong.  Like it or not, 2 plus 2 DOES NOT equal 5.  Your statement has no meaning.  If it IS the quality, then define that quality for me?  YOU CAN'T

There are several aspects to bokeh that make it more or less desirable.

To you, or to many?  If I like it, and you don't, does that mean there is MORE bokeh for me and less for you?  Is it subjective?

It has NOTHING to do with how out of focus something is. Only the quality of the blur circles (that might not even be circular, but that is another story).

I never said it had anything to do with the amount of blur.  The amount of blur is only one QUALITY of the blur, some may like more, some may like less, amount has nothing to do with it's actual existence.  If bokeh is a THING, then it is definable with concrete parameters, if it is subjective, then it's not definable.

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