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03-23-2010, 06:57 PM   #1
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What is good Bokeh?

I know Bokeh is the background (or Foreground) all smudgy.

But what constitutes good Bokeh? Is it a smeared or is it Spotty? I was going to post this in the techniques section but figured I'm probably not the only noob wondering this...

03-23-2010, 07:13 PM   #2
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Good Bokeh is what your eye finds most pleasing.

Have a look here..

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/92961-ultimate...mpilation.html

and here..

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/mini-challenges-games-photo-stories/93874...our-bokeh.html
03-23-2010, 07:24 PM   #3
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Bokeh means SENILE

Yes, bokeh really does mean 'senile' or 'demented' in Japanese. The implication is, it's someone making stupid mistakes and saying stupid things. Visually, it's just the foggy confusion of a blurry background.

Ah, but we're photographers. We like smooth bokey. We don't like jagged, sharp, polygonal, or hollow (donut-hole) bokeh. We don't like backgrounds that distract us from the subject. We don't like a background filled with stars, squares, triangles, circles, ET aliens, spaghetti. We like a patternless blur, like what you see after your 17th shot of tequila. The best bokeh is one that doesn't bite.
03-23-2010, 07:33 PM   #4
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Great analogies RioRico.
Also like a good cheesecake - smooth and creamy, not lumpy or grainy.

03-23-2010, 07:52 PM   #5
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Great info so far. Now when I see a photo with circles of colour in the background all of similiar size, is that good or bad Bokeh?

I know these may seem like dumb questions, but for one to appreciate the art, one must understand the artist! or at the very least the connoisseur or critic!
03-23-2010, 07:59 PM   #6
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As I said in my first post, it's not about what someone else likes. But to answer your question, generally speaking I find multi-colour circular Bokeh pleasing.

After you look at thousands of images, you will know what you like.
03-23-2010, 08:03 PM   #7
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As Carl says, it's what YOU find appealing. Subjective appraisal.
Harsh bokeh generally causes the blurred background to stand out too much and hence does not lead to an excellent image result. The doughnut shaped highlights in a background are almost definitely created by mirror lenses (see examples of that in the Mirror Lens Club). These lenses create quite harsh bokeh, and as such as not as desirable, but can be creatively used to capture reasonably sharp images with those typical doughnut highlights in the background for unique effect.
03-23-2010, 08:12 PM   #8
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In other words, Bokeh is subjective to the beholder. THere is no correct "look" for Bokeh. Any Bokeh can be good depending on the situation or subject.

03-23-2010, 08:25 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Kurly One Quote
Great info so far. Now when I see a photo with circles of colour in the background all of similiar size, is that good or bad Bokeh?

I know these may seem like dumb questions, but for one to appreciate the art, one must understand the artist! or at the very least the connoisseur or critic!
We're talking about the out of focus areas here. Most of the time, this part of the image is meant to at least not to distract from the subject. If possible it should enhance the subject in some way. You would have it in focus if it was part of the subject.

I took this photo recently, and it's not a spectacular image, but I think the best thing about it is the out of focus background, which happens to be a color that complements the rest of the photo.



I can't claim I expected or planned this effect. The lens was a 500mm mirror lens, which everyone will tell you has horrible bokeh. It helps that the background in this case is maybe 250 feet away and the bird is maybe 20 feet away.

If you look through some of the threads mentioned above, you can see some good examples. I would not immediately worry about replacing all your lenses with ones that cost 10x as much to acquire the best bokeh. Just look at images to see what adds to the subject and what takes away from it.
03-23-2010, 08:59 PM   #10
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if there are focus of light... I like the round circles... like this photo...

03-23-2010, 09:12 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by The Kurly One Quote
In other words, Bokeh is subjective to the beholder. THere is no correct "look" for Bokeh. Any Bokeh can be good depending on the situation or subject.
There are generally accepted standards for bokeh but, in the end it is subjective, you don't have to go with the crowd and as you say, different situations or subjects can dictate which type of bokeh might be most appropriate.
03-23-2010, 10:53 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Yes, bokeh really does mean 'senile' or 'demented' in Japanese.
Did you figure that out from your son's Pokemon cartoons? :smile:
03-24-2010, 01:37 AM   #13
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Boke comes from the verb 暈ける(ぼける、bokeru) to blur, to be faded and not from 呆ける/惚ける(ぼける, bokeru) an homophone that means senile/idiot, there's also 木瓜(ぼけ, boke) but that's a flower. There are far too many homophones in japanese (and grammar is not even similar to english), so it's normal to find sounds that have more than one meaning.
03-24-2010, 02:14 AM   #14
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It's subjective, is what it is.
03-24-2010, 08:48 AM   #15
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As Fractal mentioned, if you like it what you see, it's good. People have different opinions on bokeh. The donut bokeh of mirror lenses is a good example. Some people love it and others hate it.
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