Photo Journal

A wedding, senior portrait, and children's photographer in Rockport, Texas.  Serving the families of Aransas county and the Coastal Bend area with film and digital photography. 

52 Wednesdays - 3|Fifty-Two {Bokeh}

There are tons of articles on-line discussing bokeh: exact definitions, different types, what causes it, how best to achieve it, pleasing vs. distracting, creating shaped bokeh, etc. Not to mention several variations of how to pronounce it! Any portrait photographer has their own methods to utilize bokeh to their advantage and I'm one of them. I know that focal length, distance between the subject and the light that creates the bokeh, and aperture all play a part in creating bokeh, but I've never taken the time to set up an experiment to analyze the quality of bokeh created by my different lenses. Since this 52 Wednesdays project is all about growing as a photographer, and since I don't have any willow trees available (they produce a very unique and amazing type of bokeh), I've decided to do just that. Experiment, that is. So don't expect some creative wonder of canvas worthy bokeh; just some test shots here in the RV and down at the river! I've had my 50 f/1.4 for the longest and I'm very familiar and comfortable with the bokeh it creates, so I decided to test out my 100mm f/2.8L macro and my 70-200 f/2.8 (set at 100mm). This may not be a fair comparison, but since the 100mm macro also performs well as a portrait lens, I figured it was worth a go! Starting with macro, I stood in my kitchen and focused on some fruit and herbs at my sink. I took the in-focus shot first, then I looked down and focused on the toe of my shoe (just to make sure that the out of focus "bokeh" shots from each lens were each taken at an equal focal distance - I know...very specific scientific control!) and then took the blurry "bokeh" shot. After switching to the 70-200 and setting the zoom at 100mm, and not touching my settings (I wanted the exact same shutter speed, ISO and aperture), I again took an in-focus shot, focused on the same spot on the toe of my shoe, and then took the second bokeh shot. All images were shot at at 1/350 sec., f/4.0, and an ISO of 500. Here are my results:



100mm Macro. (Take note of the blur of the trees outside the kitchen window, but please ignore the dirt on the window!)

Taken from the exact same spot with the same lens. Pretty! I like the bokeh created by the oranges.


Same spot, same set up, same settings, but taken with my 70-200. (Again, note the blur of the trees - a little creamier, perhaps?)

Bokeh from the 70-200. Also very pretty! This time I like the bananas and the light off the measuring cup.



Just for fun, I decided to take a shot focusing on the trees outside my window and get some foreground bokeh! Same settings and set up as before, still with the 70-200.



The differences are fairly noticeable, but since I use these two lenses for two entirely different reasons, I don't think my choice of which lens to use on what occasion will depend on these results! And just as there are several different ways to pronounce "bokeh", I'm sure there will be several different opinions as to which lens creates better bokeh! (For the record, I like them both. But my 70-200 is amazing when I shooting at focal lengths of 135+ and I have it wide open!)

The macro is my newest lens, so after my little kitchen experiment I headed down to the river to get some bokeh created by light reflecting on the water. These were just for fun, so enjoy!



Whew.... thanks for hanging in there with me! I didn't plan on this little project to take up so much time or space!

Hope you still have plenty of time to check out the amazing Karen Porter - Austin, TX Photographer! Leave some love for all the ladies in our 52 Wednesdays project.