Some Pictures Look Better Without Bokeh

August 26, 2020

Some pictures look better without the bokeh. Not every picture needs it. Personally I don’t even like talking about bokeh. You’ll see it in my photographs but it’s one of those things that people get massively excited about and it can be a bit much. Every amateur photographer and his or her gran will become too enthusiastic about the bokeh, which is why I don’t want to talk about it – there’s always some camera club member that will want to start a conversation about a lens and the bokeh and oh go I feel sick.

So for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term bokeh, it’s basically that blurred out bit of a photograph. It does look really nice when done properly. It’s also one of those things that’s over used or too heavily relied on without much consideration about why it’s being used.

Mobile phones have played a part in this. The competition for mobile phones is often fought out in the photographic capabilities and they all seem to be producing these bonkers bokeh settings.

The problem is that’s all the way that phone create this affect is different to the way that an SLR and a good photographer will produce bokeh (by letting in a load of light blah, blah, blah). Instead they use the two lenses on the phone to create a background distortion. The problem is the camera often blurs the edges of the subject too. All in all, it just looks bad.

When done right, this technique of blurring out the background does look good. It ads a nice sense of drama or an interesting dynamic to a shot. The problem is that both the technique and the term bokeh are very fashionable. The problem with this is that fashionable things tend to get over used and fashions fade. And the reality is that some pictures do just look better without the bokeh.


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