Bokeh in the foreground?

CCTjohn

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I took this image and would like some general critique but specifically the Bokeh in the foreground. In everyone's opinion, does it add or distract from the image and images in general? Or is it indifferent if the subject is right.

 

Josh66

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The first thing is that you are using "bokeh" incorrectly. Bokeh is not the state of being out of focus, it is the 'quality' of those out of focus elements. I.E., 'good bokeh' or 'choppy bokeh', or whatever...

In this case, it distracts. In general - it depends on if it's 'good bokeh' or not. It doesn't really add anything (in this case).
 

nola.ron

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To be "correct" per se, the foreground (whether blurred or not) should draw you in to the subject OR be part of the story/scene (if in focus). You can be creative - sometimes it works, others it does not.

*edit*
Here's an example that I think works and received good critique. I blurred the foreground to use both rules here creatively:

Let me at um'! by nola-ron, on Flickr
 

vintagesnaps

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I find it interesting, makes me feel like I'm peering over an edge of one thing into something else. And it's intriguing not knowing exactly what it is but seeing the pattern and texture and shapes.

Photographing something like this I might try more than one photo and vary the vantage point slightly and see if I wanted the V shape in the foreground centered or more off center. Interesting subject to photograph.
 
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CCTjohn

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Sorry for my misunderstanding of the word. I simply thought it was simply taken from a Japanese word meaning "Blur" or "Blurry" Whether it was pleasing or not, I thought was a different matter. Thank you for the clarification.

The picture of the dog really illustrates the idea.

I wonder if cropping it out would improve the image. Looking back, I wish I would have thought to take a higher angle. I may have missed it that way. It's what I get for expecting to have time to shoot at my pace with the wife and kid with me and wanting to go, go, go.

I may crop it out and see how it looks that way.
 

Derrel

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Your Rusty Gears images uses foreground bokeh as a compositional device. Many people from western cultures dislike this compositional device, and rant and rail against the use of foreground bokeh as a compositional device, but the way you used the out of focus rendering, the bokeh, of the slightly V-shaped struts really helped create the effect of "looking past" or "peering in" to the mechanism. I looked at the image on Flickr large...looked very 3-dimensional. I think I have a pretty well-developed sense of the ay the term bokeh is used, since I have read numerous articles by the one,single westerner who introduced the term to the USA and, in fact, the majority of the English-speaking world, Mike Johnston. The definition has room for both the quality of the out of focus blur,but the original meaning was basically "the blur", and the presence of compositonal elements shown blurred is also "the bokeh".


Again--keep this in mind: people raised in "western" cultures will almost universally rant and rail against using foreground bokeh as a compositional device. Cutesy, or clever, or whimsical examples, like the dog on leash focusing in on a water bird near the edge of a pond being an exception. Look thru forums...most samples with out of focus foreground elements receive very negative feedback. On the other hand, look at some of the Japanese photo sharing sites: OOF foregrounds as a compositional device receive wide acclaim and are used every day, all the time, in many,many situations and types or genres of photography.
 

Josh66

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Sorry for my misunderstanding of the word. I simply thought it was simply taken from a Japanese word meaning "Blur" or "Blurry" Whether it was pleasing or not, I thought was a different matter. Thank you for the clarification.

Well, maybe I was too harsh. It's just that pretty much every single new member we get here thinks that bokeh just means that there is something out of focus in the picture.

Bokeh is a concept, not a quantity - I guess is what I mean. (People often ask how to get "more bokeh" - it's not a 'unit' that is measured in 'more or less', but rather 'good or bad' - if that makes any sense at all...)
['Pleasing' and 'not pleasing' might be a better description than 'good or bad'...]
 
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CCTjohn

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...the bokeh, of the slightly V-shaped struts really helped create the effect of "looking past" or "peering in" to the mechanism...

That's the effect I was going for but not sure how it would appear to others.
 

Derrel

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Here are two photos I made back in 2006. In this first photo, foreground bokeh is used as a compositional building block. This photo is about the sunset time period of the day, about modern commercial passenger air flight, seen against the enduring,natural quality of aspen and cedar trees. I liked the small bit of evening light grazing the maple tree leaves in the lower right hand side of the picture, and I also like the slight twinge of color on the aspen leaves. Canon 20D with Nikkor 85mm 1.4 AF-D, aka "the Cream Machine"
$65372004.jpg

This second image, made just a few seconds later, shows the foreground element clearly--the leaves of a young aspen tree, in evening light. In this shot, all the bokeh comes from the out of focus cedar tree. The maple tree is still there, but it has been rendered basically of zero importance.

$65372005.jpg

An astute viewer can see from my lesson that this is basically a focus pull. These shots were made hand-held, just second apart,as part of my then-fascination with bokeh as a compositional building block. A person can actually USE bokeh, as a compositional "element". I even wrote a blog post about bokeh as a compositional building block, and how it differs in Western and Eastern cultures.
 

KmH

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Sorry for my misunderstanding of the word. I simply thought it was simply taken from a Japanese word meaning "Blur" or "Blurry" Whether it was pleasing or not, I thought was a different matter. Thank you for the clarification.
Bokeh is a word made up in 1997 by an American photography magazine editor. Bokeh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Japanese word boke is also used in the sense of a mental haze or senility.
 

sashbar

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To be "correct" per se, the foreground (whether blurred or not) should draw you in to the subject OR be part of the story/scene (if in focus). You can be creative - sometimes it works, others it does not.

*edit*
Here's an example that I think works and received good critique. I blurred the foreground to use both rules here creatively:

Let me at um'! by nola-ron, on Flickr


I still think it would be much better if the dog would be a part of the story here (because it IS clearly a part of the story here). Oherwise it is just a photo of the duck, disproportionally small in this frame, with lots of empty space in front of it. It just does not make any sense to me. Why using a blurred dog to draw you to the duck ?? Just bring the duck closer, remove the dog and you will be drawn to it naturally. Whatever you say but it is the dog-duck interaction and the anticipation of the dogs reaction what makes this photo interesting. The duck as such does not interest me at all. It is just a duck that we can not even see properly because it is busy with cleaning itself I guess. And exactly because of that - the duck is busy, but the dog is watching - there is some clear tension in the picture. Or there would be a clear tension IF the dog was in focus.

To be honest I think 90 per cent of the photos have blurred foreground because photographers could not use or would not bother to use f22 or less or just forget about the foreground, and then find a "creative excuse" for the blurred forefront subjects. You chose to do it deliberately and it works for you, fair enough. But I just imagine how much more drama this shot could represent if we could sense that hunting instinct of the dog watching his pray...

So to me in 9 out of 10 a blurred foreground does not work at all. And I am not so sure that one needs to blur the foreground to create a 3D effect either.

PS I would actualy trim this photo on the right, there is too much of the lead and as the dog is so close he may be positioned much closer to the right border.
 
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