Definition of bokeh, simply gibberish?

Started Mar 6, 2014 | Discussions thread
Matthew Miller
Matthew Miller Senior Member • Posts: 1,311
actually, the first part of your quoted definition is wrong

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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