new icn messageflickr-free-ic3d pan white
The Bokeh Destroyer | by Studio d'Xavier
Back to photostream

The Bokeh Destroyer

Bokeh (日本語): n a Japanese term for the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.


The root of the Japanese word boke or bokeh actually means "nothing good." The meaning is similar to “confused” or “dizzy” and is used to describe mental states of the same nature. Many new photographers confuse bokeh with the distracting hard edged illuminated balls created by out of focus pinpoints of light in the background of an image. For more information on bokeh, please see this pdf file composed by Carl Ziess. If it's not enough to make your stomach churn with graphs and physics, then perhaps the musk from a deceased skunk should be applied to your lover's errogenous zones.


The lovely Leilani challenged me to bag some bokeh as my "Get Pushed" theme. If the truth be told, I don't really care for the little bokey balls that seem to bounce all over Explore like light bouncing through a $20 bargain bin Tamaron lens. I cranked down my aperture past ƒ8 years ago. I seek control in my images, not serendipity.


But still, I do own a couple of ƒ1.8 lenses, a 50 and an 85mm. I use each of them for their clairity, their light gathering ability, and their ability to isolate a subject against a wash of color. So, I took my beloved 28-70 ƒ2.8 Nikkor off my camera and clicked on the venerable 85mm. My plan is/was to bag a stranger or two (my challenge for Leilani) with the 85mm. Plans do go awry however, and since I am on call this weekend, I felt the need to hedge my bets. Plus, it's over 100 degrees outside and I need a 365 image today.


So, I strung up Christmas lights across the black wall in Studio d'Xavier. I moved my camera and tripod 45 feet away and I placed a dialed down monolight with a soft diffuser behind it. Once I focused on myself, a scant six feet in front of the lens at ƒ1.8, I had instant bokey balls. All that remained was some means of expressing how I feel about the little balls of light. I don't own a gas mask, so I modified an old paintball mask to deal with the noxious balls of light.


Lessons learned:

1. Leilani bagged her first stranger before I bagged bokeh. She's both quick with her lens and a wonderful photographer. Sharp eye, incisive wit. I'm going to keep her as a contact.

2. I need to clean either my sensor or that 85mm lens. I think it's the sensor.

3. I have enough room in Studio d'Xavier to manufacture bokeh if needed.

4. I really need a gas mask for self expression.

5 A weird mask across 75% of an image can visually balance the remaining 25% of bouncing bokey balls.


Thanks for the push Leilani, I plan to keep the 85mm on my camera for a few days and chase down some bokeh in the more conventional fashion.


Many thanks to the awesome Ewa for the tribute pic.


View Large and on Black


Strobist: AB800 with Softlighter II camera left. Triggered by Cybersync.

45 faves
Taken on July 10, 2011