Shooting into the early evening light with a mirror lens in Bristol docks. Focusing on the foreground with a Samyang 300mm f6.3 lens in May 2016. I love these bokeh doughnuts and much better for you than the real thing!
In this post
- Top Tips on How to be a Bokeh Guru
- Potential New Lens Considerations for Bokeh
- A Fast Lens – What Does It Mean?
- Choosing Between Lenses For Better Bokeh
- How to Set-up your Camera and Lens to Create Bokeh
- A Very Rough Guide to Good and Bad Bokeh
- Lightroom 9.3 Update – June 2020
- How to get Lightroom to Import and keep Raw Mono in-camera, Mono in Lightroom
- COVID 19 Update 2
- New Workshop Dates
Top Tips on How to be a Bokeh Guru
I am sure you all know that bokeh is a Japanese word to describe the out of focus highlights or background. Further, the term comes from the Japanese word “boke” which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality”. Maybe, the name bokeh has appeared in photography books as early as 1998 and It is sometimes pronounced /ˈboʊkə/ (boke-uh).
Bokeh is produced beyond the sphere of the depth of field (DoF). Indeed, DoF is defined as the zone of acceptable sharpness approximately 1/3 in front of the point of focus to 2/3 behind the point of focus.
Lalibela, Northern Ethiopia 2007
Potential new lens considerations
If you are a bokeh junky like me when researching a new lens purchase, what are the considerations to take into account for bokeh?
The reasons why
Why am I a bokeh junky? In the first place, I never fully signed-up for pure or straight photography. Straight photography refers to photography that attempts to depict a scene or subject in sharp focus and detail. Therefore, these are the qualities that distinguish photography from other visual media, particularly painting.
Secondly, much straight photography is a record, without artistic interpretation.
Finally, considerable amounts of straight photography leave the viewer to decide what the picture subject is. This is because a small aperture creates continuous Depth of Field (DoF), everything is sharp. The subject matter is not defined by an area of sharper focus.
- Sensor size – larger gives more control of DoF
- The focal length of the lens – Longer gives less DoF
- Maximum aperture – Wider gives more DoF
- Distance to the point of focus – Closer gives more DoF
A Fast Lens – what does it mean?
To change the topic slightly, if you have a choice of lens for your camera system just by choosing the one with the “fastest” maximum aperture is only part of the consideration. As a matter of fact, the term fast lens does not mean the speed of focus. The term fast lens comes from the days of film where the film emulsion had a fixed sensitivity to light.
A fast lens is decided by the workings of the Exposure Triangle (see right).
If the ISO is fixed, the two controls of exposure are Aperture and Shutter speed.
Where the ISO and Aperture are fixed, therefore the only control over exposure is shutter speed.
When comparing two lenses of different maximum aperture, the wider maximum aperture will give a faster shutter speed at the same fixed ISO.
For example, two lenses with a maximum aperture of f4.0 and f2.0, 1) a 100 ISO exposure of 1/125s @f4 and 2) a 100 ISO exposure of 1/500 @f2.
The f2.0 lens gives a faster shutter speed over the f4.0 lens. Hence the term, a fast lens.
Choosing Between Lenses For Better Bokeh
Back to the topic of choosing between lens for bokeh. There are three specifications to consider:
firstly, the focal length of the lens,
secondly, minimum focus distance,
and lastly, the maximum aperture.
Honestly, the most important from a practical point of view is the minimum focusing distance. Therefore, the quality and softness of the Bokeh are governed more by distance than an expensive and heavy maximum aperture.
Finally, it is also said the greater number of aperture blades produces rounder bokeh.
Therefore, if you have the choice of two lenses with comparable maximum aperture and one has a closer focusing distance. To tell the truth, my choice would be the one with the ability to focus closer. If you are using a CSC APS-C system like Fujifilm X mount, it might be worth waiting to see if new lens offerings come along from Sigma, Tokina, Tamron and Viltrox in the short term.
How to Set-up your Camera and Lens to Create Bokeh
Why not try a combination of the ideas below and see how you get on with better bokeh.
- Low fixed ISO
- Medium telephoto lens
- Aperture priority metering
- Maximum Aperture
- Closest focus distance
- Shooting into the light
- Choose a plain background
Dinorwig Slate Quarry with a Fujinon 16mm (24mm) f1.4 lens @ f1.4
A Very Rough Guide to Good and Bad Bokeh
You may have come across the term good and bad bokeh, here is my understanding of what each looks like.
- Doughnut shaped
Pelting Drove, Priddy, The Mendip Hills, January 2020. IR capture Fujifilm XE-2 & Fujinon 8-16mm lens @f2.8
- Not round and or egg-shaped
- Onion rings inside the highlight
Lightroom 9.3 Update – June 2020
Adobe has made a few changes and improvements to Lightroom Classic (Desktop version). However, there is nothing new or ground-breaking. In my photography, the updates I will use are first, is the ability to keep mono in-camera, mono in Lightroom. Secondly, to change local colour with the Adjustment Brush, Gradient Filter or Radial Gradient Filter. Frankly, I must admit on my PC it seems every new update Lightroom performance gets worse, not better! Incidentally, this is after the expense of a Solid-State Drive (SSD) which is supposed to considerably speed things up!
To get back to the point, here is a summary of the changes in the 9.3 Update. See if any of them will be of interest to you in your photography practice. Additionally, click the link for more on how to use these updates. Lightroom 9.3 Update
- Defaults – new additional pre-sets are available to take the photo back to Adobe Default or Camera Settings.
- Local HSL Hue adjustment – which has been requested for a long time. Use with the Brush or with a gradient, combined with the Color Range Mask to change colours of an object.
- ISO adaptive pre-sets – you can now create presets for different ISO values without using a text editor.
- Video support – HEVC for Windows, AVI for Mac.
- Tone Curve update with new User Interface (UI).
- Batch Exports – now include additional dialogue for folders and naming when contained in the pre-sets.
- Performance improvements.
- Sync status has been expanded – it’s now in the top right of Lightroom under a cloud symbol, similar to the Lightroom (cloud-based) system.
How to get Lightroom to Import and keep Raw Mono in-camera, Mono in Lightroom
You know the usual scenario, you have set the screen on the back of your camera to show a Raw B&W picture. When the picture is Imported into Lightroom it goes back to Master Adobe Colour Profile. In all honesty, I often think to myself I cannot see the picture until it is reduced to tones of grey. What follows, helps me see immediately in Lightroom what I took in B&W in the camera.
Cleehill Shropshire car park puddle Samyang 50 mm f1.2 lens
A mono picture does not immediately have to go back to Adobe colour by default any more. With update 9.3, now if you shoot black and white in Raw the picture can be opened in Lightroom with the same film simulation. The old default in Lightroom of the Adobe Standard colour profile can now be overridden.
Once the raw pictures are in Lightroom with Fujifilm film simulation profile if you want to change from say B&W Acros with a Yellow filter to Eterna you can. For this reason, the great thing is your Import settings do not have to be changed to make this work.
If you feel adventurous, there is the facility to have different pre-sets based on camera serial numbers. Additionally, you may need to see the Lightroom help if you want to try this out. I have not set this up as goes beyond my current needs.
NB, I have used the word Raw three times, this does NOT work with jpg files. Once a jpg file is B&W it stays B&W.
COVID 19 Update 2
What’s changed in the last fortnight? Since my last update where I need cafes and public toilets to be reopened as a minimum before I can run workshops again.
The 2m distance rule has been relaxed to 1m+.
Cafes, pubs hotels, B&B’s and restaurants can reopen from 4 July in England with COVID security measures in place.
On the question of the reopening of public toilets after 4 July. The online government guidance updated on 25 June does not mention public toilets. After an online search of the guidance, I cannot find proof confirming toilets will be reopened. However, I did see an online The Sun headline saying that the government is encouraging the reopening of toilets.
New Workshop Dates
Southwest Fuji Users Workshop Tuesday 29 September 2020
Introduction to Composition Thursday 29 October 2020
How To The Get the Most from Your Wide-Angle Workshop at The Big Pit on 25 July is to be clarified when the English will be able to enter and travel in Wales!