Bokeh

Bokeh is pronounced BOH-kay. It describes the beauty of the out of focus areas of a photograph. It describes the beauty or the lack of beauty of the softness and the efforts made to make that softness. It further describes how the points of light will represent when not in focus.

Bokeh is not depth of field, rather it is the effect caused by minimizing the depth of field. Certain lenses are exceptional in their representation of the out of focus areas. Notably, some vintage Leica lenses have 11, 12 or even 15 blades to make the aperture as close to a perfect circle as possible. Less desirable multi-sided aperture can attract the viewer’s attention from the subject. The circular shapes can dissolve to softness with the attention staying with the subject.

Highlights, as they transition within a photograph from sharp to not-sharp will show the shape of the aperture as it moves to out of focus and that is normally a 6 to 8 sided opening. At the largest opening of a lens the mechanism of the aperture is not visible but as the lens closes down the blades can become visible in the out of focus highlights.

Bokeh, the term comes from a Japanese word meaning blur or haze.  No, it has nothing to do with a group of flowers.

 

©Gary Culley

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