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Author Topic: Bokeh confusion.  (Read 5853 times)

sanj

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Bokeh confusion.
« on: December 27, 2012, 07:02:39 AM »
Hello learned friends.
I recently did a job for a client who wanted me to take pictures to sell land/second homes in his farmland.
I am attaching two photos: Bath Tub and Glasses.
I like the bokah on the shot with the glasses but somehow do not like the way the sand is going out of focus in the bath tub shot.
Is it me of does anyone else also find it unpleasant?
Tech info (same for both shots!) 70-200 II f2.8 @200mm.
Thx,
Sanjay

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Bokeh confusion.
« on: December 27, 2012, 07:02:39 AM »

RobT

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 07:31:53 AM »
The first shot looks messy in terms of bokeh since all the OOF areas land on the ground, and it doesn't provide a lot of depth between the subject and background.

Bokeh has that magic look when a lot of highlights and depth is involved, like your second shot, where the background is very far away from the wine glasses and contains highlights and light diffraction from trees, etc.

As a general rule of thumb for photography, don't forget to look at your subject from a lower perspective. If you had shot the tub from ground level, it would contain roughly the same bokeh effect that you see with the wine glasses.

sanj

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 08:17:33 AM »
Thx Rob for the suggestions. I agree.
However I could not go low on the bath tub shot as there were unwanted elements coming into the frame at top....

infared

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 08:30:57 AM »
My two cents:
I LOVE my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. ...It has incredible sharpness for a Zoom Lens. Incredible.  That being said...the trade-off is that the bokeh is less than creamy smooth. (alas...photography is a world of compromises). The bokeh with any lens will ALWAYS look better when you are up close, with much lower DOF that allows the background go much more out of focus because it is way out of your in-focus DOF area. Your shot of the glasses shows this.
The things that effect DOF are f/stop, focal length and closeness to the subject. You want the background as far out of your relative focusing DOF as possible.
The bathtub image is shot from a greater distance at the same focal length as the shot of the glasses..but the background is "relatively" much closer to your in-focus DOF for the image. This particular lens is not that kind with the bokeh in these situations...but damn is it sharp.
I think you could try a 1.4xIII and keep the framing the same it might help somewhat to separate the background out and make it smear more although your effective focal length is then 280mm and you have to move back to get the more compression that is attained with that setup......or go to another lens which is known for its bokeh, like the 85mmL or 135L with a converter or a 200mm f/2L etc to get the image more bokehlicious.  (Don't know how the zoom would compare to the 200mm f/2.8L...be interesting to see tho, perhaps someone with more experience can enlighten us here!).
Hope that helped a little.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 08:32:35 AM by infared »
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PackLight

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 08:35:58 AM »
Sanj, I agree with RobT and lower would have been better.

Since that wasn't an option;

It looks like a good job for a wide angle, up close and you could have gotten lower. It would have taken out the impact of the gradual fall away background. Compression of a long lens is not your friend in this picture.

I am not sure you were looking for other answers, but the two examples are not all that comparable. The glasses are shot close with separation from the background. The background didn't need to be as far away to have a very nice blur. The other shot is farther away, the DOF is no doubt deeper and the way the background is presented it falls away gradually. Of course you would have need a larger distance from the subject in this picture to get the same background blur.



Studio1930

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2012, 08:48:04 AM »
Use a tilt shift lens or an easier way would be to use the Brenizer method.  I do this with my 85L.  Google it.

http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/category/brenizer-method/
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 08:57:30 AM by Studio1930 »
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RS2021

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 09:06:36 AM »
The bath tub shot presents a number of interesting problems to solve.

Some have been already suggested. I also see top corner distortion which adds to the bokeh issue. The field or farm which you want to highlight itself is not a uniform lawn of green or brown...rather it is mottled brown and green and busy...a tough subject in its own right.

If you we're reshooting (thought experiment here) then a wide angle shot  that is lower to the ground closer to the girl can be considered to emphasize the vastness of the farm. DOF would cover a wider range with a wide angle and fall off would be gradual.

But what can be done with the shot you already have... The girl in the bathtub is now centered... Crop the last fifth of the empty field to the right ...so she falls in the third herself...will fulfill the thirds rule and be more edgy.

Alternatively, you can crop long horizontally in a banner style ... Removing the top DOF fall off region... This will emphasize the land stretching on either side and remove the bokeh "confusion" in the background you refer to. I am sure there are a lot of other creative ways of getting the shot to work the way it is shot. Cheers.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 09:17:59 AM by Ray2021 »
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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2012, 09:06:36 AM »

rj79in

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2012, 09:20:29 AM »
Packlight is right ... the shots are not comparable and unlikely to have the same bokeh quality given the compression of the frame.

BTW, I feel something odd about the first shot. The mid-right of the frame is surprisingly in sharp focus whereas the mid-center of the frame, which is on the same plane, is OOF! 

Orangutan

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2012, 09:27:28 AM »
I'm just an amateur, but I'll throw in a few thoughts/ideas regarding the bathtub shot.  First, there's a right-left imbalance on the OOF areas.  That distracts my eye from the subject.  Second, clods of dirt don't make good bokeh; it might have worked better when the field was sprouts 6-12 inches high.  Third, this might be a job that needs maximum DOF on capture, then add blur in PS afterwards.  Fourth, maybe not use blur at all, but capture at full DOF and slightly desaturate the dirt. 

You might be able to rescue the shot by adding blur to the dirt in post, but balance it left-right.  Again, I'm an amateur, so take this FWIW.

One more thing: it's a really interesting concept -- if you can make the execution work it could be a very compelling image.

bdunbar79

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2012, 12:39:22 PM »
THAT'S IT!  WE'RE MOVING TO DEL BOKEH VISTA, LOCK, STOCK, AND BARREL!
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Drizzt321

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2012, 01:01:54 PM »
Use a tilt shift lens or an easier way would be to use the Brenizer method.  I do this with my 85L.  Google it.

http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/category/brenizer-method/


That sounds really interesting. Maybe I should try this out with my 135L, or if I get a full Macro rig with my macro lens. Talk about getting some fine detail!
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Sporgon

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2012, 01:07:15 PM »
Leaving aside other aspects of the bath tub shot, regarding composition, subject etc, I think the problem is the DoF is too great, leaving the ground just behind the screen very sharp. There is then an abrupt fall off in focus. For this type of shot to work the screen would have had to have been on the absolute limit of far focus, which takes a little trial and error, difficult to judge it on camera.

Moving closer with a shorter focal length would alter perspective and make this easier to achieve.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 01:13:34 PM by Sporgon »

kubelik

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2012, 02:19:47 PM »
bokeh isn't just about focal length and aperture, it's about the relationship between the distance from backdrop to camera and subject to camera.

in the first image, the backdrop is very far away, but so is the subject.  thus the backdrop->camera vs subject-> camera ratio is very small.

in the second image, the backdrop is probably moderately to very far away, but the subject is very close to the camera.  the backdrop->camera vs subject->camera ratio is very large, giving big, soft blur.

when you're trying to hit a certain amount of separation, always think in terms of how far your background is versus how far your subject is.  it's equally as important as what the absolute focal length of the lens is.

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2012, 02:19:47 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2012, 02:30:34 PM »
bokeh isn't just about focal length and aperture, it's about the relationship between the distance from backdrop to camera and subject to camera.

in the first image, the backdrop is very far away, but so is the subject.  thus the backdrop->camera vs subject-> camera ratio is very small.

in the second image, the backdrop is probably moderately to very far away, but the subject is very close to the camera.  the backdrop->camera vs subject->camera ratio is very large, giving big, soft blur.

when you're trying to hit a certain amount of separation, always think in terms of how far your background is versus how far your subject is.  it's equally as important as what the absolute focal length of the lens is.

I agree with this.  This happens all the time in sports.  If I am very far away from a player, and the player is close to the fans in the stands, I cannot blur the fans in the background and therefore it becomes confusing when you look at the shot.
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kubelik

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2012, 03:01:31 PM »
Use a tilt shift lens or an easier way would be to use the Brenizer method.  I do this with my 85L.  Google it.

http://www.ryanbrenizer.com/category/brenizer-method/


btw, studio1930, thanks for sharing that link!  I've considered doing something similar in the past without being able to determine why it made sense, but now it's super obvious.  I do think that the OP's shot is a perfect opportunity for using the Brenizer method since it's mostly a still-life where the model only takes up a small portion of the overall image and is holding a pose than can easily be held still for a half a dozen frames or so.

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Re: Bokeh confusion.
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2012, 03:01:31 PM »