Friday, June 27, 2008

bokeh bokeh everywhere. hey. what the heck is bokeh?

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

A little while ago I mentioned some photos I took involving "bokeh". Bokeh comes from the Japanese word for blur and refers to the out-of-focus parts of a photograph. Personally, I am a huge fan of bokeh. I just love how it makes the subject of your photo really stand out from the background. Hopefully I'll have time this weekend to start my "Photography 101" posts because the second lesson will be about Aperture settings, which is the technical part of photography that allows you to change the range of focus in a photo. In other words, after my second photography lesson and a little craftiness with some carstock paper, you'll be able to create this effect too.

Now. I-for-one prefer photos that look as natural as possible. I love the look of interesting post-processing actions on other people's photos, but I prefer straight up and straight out of the camera for mine. The photos I post are usually almost exactly as they came out of my camera, except for the occasional levels adjustment (usually to compensate for the total lack of natural light most of the time here in Vancouver!)

Anyway, my point is that I don't particularly care for all sorts of tricks of photography, but I do love to experiment and learn, so when I saw a post on heart-shaped bokeh on Flickr, I was determined to re-create the look. I don't plan on taking many more photos like this, but it was fun to successfully re-create the effect. I do think this will be really cool at Christmas time with some star cut outs or other fun shapes.

I could write a huge long post about how I achieved this effect, but there is no sense re-inventing the wheel, so check out the Do-It-Yourself page on the heart-shaped bokeh effect here. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the effect with different cut out shapes.

Anyway... enough talk. Check out my heart-shaped bokeh. As usual, click to enlarge. See the hearty shapes behind all of the flowers? I did not do those in photoshop. With the help of the heart shaped lens hood described on the Do-It-Yourself page, the photos came out of the camera like this. How fun eh? I also took a few of Csilla with hearts all around her. They were super sweet too. Enjoy. After the photos here, I've writen some extra technical tips to help you do this too. And if you do, be sure to post your results. I'd love to see your take on the effect.

(All of these were taken with my 50mm f/1.8 lens on Aperture priority at f/1.8, except the last one of the purple iris, which was taken at f/2.2.)

Some technical hints - I found this worked best when the cardstock lens hood I made fit snuggly and had lots of tape on it to keep light out. Make sure the hood is a complete sheath for the lens, instead of just being taped to the lens, otherwise the lens can't still move and focus. I haven't tried this on lenses other than my 50mm. Apparently a 50mm lens at your lowest aperture setting works best, although I really like the way the last photo here turned out at f/2.2.

The trick is getting a well-lit object in the foreground, while having speckled light in your background that becomes blurred on a lower aperture setting. The flowers in Linda's garden had bushes behind most of them, which provided multiple points of light. It worked well.

Here's what happens when you don't push the heart-shaped lens hood all the way back on the lens and bump up the aperture setting to f/14:

Strange, but kind of cool too. Anyway, have fun with it and be sure to let me know if you try it out.


Chris Osborne said...

Yep, good bokehs. It's fun once you get it down, and it looks like you've got it.

CrazyCath said...

That is a really cool effect. My camera is not SLR so I would have difficulty with the Pentax. Although I could try it with the old camera but I wouldn't see the results until the film's developed. So it might cost a bit on film to trial and error. Interesting concept though with great results.

I love learning new stuff about photography and this is really good stuff. The other thing I'd be interested to know is how you put your signature watermark on all your photos. I see a lot of people do that and wondered if it was easy to do and could some one tell me how to?

Anyway, this is a great post and I will try to get over more often than I am managing right now. Thanks for your visits to mine.

MamaGeek said...

I'm a bokeh whore (and my that I mean I belong to the flickr group named that - you should join). Bokeh on L glass shooting wide open is AMAZING - just like these shots Carolyn, VERY lovely. Thank you for playing!

MamaGeek said...

'and my' should read 'and by'.

My brain and fingers rarely communicate well. :)

lingovise said...

Very cool effects... but I'm like you, I really prefer unaltered shots straight from the lens.

I do think that understanding how to photo edit gives you a great feel for colors and composition when you do shoot though. It's very good knowledge to have - thanks so much for sharing!

Right now I struggle with not getting the warmth I want in a picture - which I think has a lot to do with the settings... I need to stop being a wimp and jump into manual mode.

Jan said...

I love the effects a lot Carolyn.

Thanks for all your help and education. The flooding of the hearts in the background, is magically. It reminds me of how life is surrounded in love if we look around.

I hope that you are feeling better.
Love the lil pet shop. Tell Csilla hi from Miss Mattie and I. Take care and have a great weekend EH!

Daryl said...

I dont understant .. I 'get' how the one that go right worked but how do the multiple hearts appear if you are shooting thru only one heart shape?

I cant do it cause I dont have a fancy camera with different lenses (all together: Poor Dar! .. How sad for her) .. sigh ..


Corey~living and loving said... sure looks like you did it in post-processing. wow...interesting...and so fun to play with I bet. Thanks for sharing your fun little experiment.

LingoVise Says... said...

okay... so I'm a dope. I miss read this the first time & thought you HAD done photo editing.

how rather lame of me C. mmmm, I don't get it. my camerginity is showing... *blush*

Suzanne said...

I am amazed, I've never heard of bokehs...and I didn't even notice them until you pointed them out. This is a very interesting effect, they look like little fireflies...which really just means that I know nothing about photography, but like pretty pictures!

Jenty said...

Wow at the heart shapes! I enjoy the bokeh thing too, but I've never managed a heart shape!

Cecily R said...

You are so cool! I love the bokeh effect, but don't feel confident enough in my photography yet to really get into it.

My daughter would FLIP over the heart shapes though.

Great PSF! Thank you so much for playing this week!

Maggie May said...

I love the photos & the last one was really great, I thought!

Angella said...

Yeah, bokeh! I love me some good bokeh.

Which you have explained (and demonstrated) perfectly.

Jennifer H said...

I think these photography posts of yours are going to be a big hit. :-)

JC said...

Fantastic shots! I'd never heard of bokeh either... looks like fun and is definitely interesting.

aims said...

Those are great! And a heart shaped lens - who knew?

Jen said...

How cool is that? Never even heard of bokeh. I don't have additional lenses, so for now, no bokeh for me. *tears*

Potty Mummy said...

Of course, that would entail having your camera battery charged...