When Will The Bokeh Craze End

RAZKY

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If you'll reread the original post the "craze" I refer to has little to do with with the Bokeh, selective focus, OOF or any other qualities imparted by the glass. Instead many are using the Radial or Gaussian blur filter post to obliviate anything that might have been in the background, leaving a disconnected body floating in a cloud. Or they reach for anything with the widest aperture they can find so their DOF becomes so thin that they're lucky if they catch the eye in focus.

Yes the Bokeh imparted in the OOF areas by some glass can be beautiful, some glass not so much. Yes selective focus is a way to isolate the subject in a frame, but moving or changing your angle can also minimize distracting backgrounds. In an environmental shot the background is a part of the composition so why would you want to eliminate it.

Where the craze or maybe crazy comes in is where the photographer automatically shoots wide open or goes straight to PS rather than considering the best choices for the subject at hand.
Looks the same now as when I first read it.
 

mrca

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Smoke in his original post said "Do they care that you had to sell a body part to buy your new lens, are they impressed with how big your lens is, or what its maximum aperture is." Oof background, whether created by the lens or in post should be employed for a reason, not just every shot. Of course, if that is someones style, then go for it. I would view that as a one trick pony. But knowing when to use it and using it appropriately is part of mastering the craft. Personally, I don't care what others are doing, but when I am judging professional competitions, I expect that concept to be understood. And Smoke is right, it is a crutch to avoid having to compose multiple elements in the frame. If the subject is the only sharp element in the frame, that's easy, but if the shot is trying to show context for the subject then compostional skills become important and you don't get those swiping a credit card for a lens. I have seen folks do the same with burning virtually to pure black around the subject to eliminate distracting elements they didn't eliminate or compose before clicking the shutter. Sure, when you can't place subject, change position or don't have time, eliminating bg with wide aperture or completely with vignette is understandable. But I believe the point of this thread is folks just using shallow dof just because they can. As I said, when you have a hammer, everything is a nail.
 

flyingPhoto

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Its a basic defect in cameras.

The default for auto exposure is to drop lens aperture to the largest opening the lens can do. No matter what..

Im starting to think its also a defective combination with how some cameras use an IR lamp on the side of the lens to help the auto focus, well focus in on something.
 

Space Face

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snowbear

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Selective color/de-saturation (AKA grey baby), added vignette, over-processed tone mapping, sepia conversion, underexposed “dreamy” look, cropped off top of head, fake digital grain, border to look like Poloroid, duck lips, bokeh …

Whatever makes them happy, I guess.
 

Space Face

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Selective color/de-saturation (AKA grey baby), added vignette, over-processed tone mapping, sepia conversion, underexposed “dreamy” look, cropped off top of head, fake digital grain, border to look like Poloroid, duck lips, bokeh …

Whatever makes them happy, I guess.
Pretty much photography in general then😀
 

mrca

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Snowbear, you are absolutely right over doing those things can be seen. But most have a valid reason for use when appropriate. Cutting of top of head can hide a bald dome or emphasize what conveys emotion in an image, lips, eyes and eyebrows. Vignette can be done so subtly, it is difficult if not impossible to detect and corals the viewers eye in the photo. De sat or conversion to b&w is helpful when terrible light color or distracting colored elements or to show line, shape and contrast. Digital grain can be used not to imitate real grain, it doesn't have varying amounts of grain in shadows and highlights, but is useful to imperceptively soften an image. I shot polaroid for work in the 70's, thought it was crap look then and do now. For nostalgia, they can knock themselves out. Bokeh is a useful tool for emphasis or elimination of distraction. But ALL of these, done in excess or without a reason, become a cliche. You left out tilting. Or brides on railroad tracks especially jumping. I would add over saturation because that is often the first thing a newby learns that makes the photo look different so thinks that makes it art. Done for a reason when called for, all are valid, but I think what some folks are pointing out, it is the excessive application or use of these techniques. But as much as they may be annoying to people who take photography seriously here, I would add Bambi Cantrell's quote when it comes to selling work, beauty lies in the eye of the checkbook holder. They often want that crap. Ever see someone taking a selfie with the cell phone 2 feet over their head and 2 feet from their face? Why so high and do they like huge noses? We have to remember many folks are learning and perhaps pass on what will improve their work. I treasure the instruction I have gotten over the years that has shaped my work and when I use those techniques, I think of the person who passed it on, many of which have passed away but live in my work.
 
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smoke665

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Wow 12 pages. Little did I know my rant back 2yrs ago would live on so long. Seems it struck a nerve with many.

@MRCDont get me started on the Dutch Tilt, it's coming back recently.
 

Michael_G

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What a fascinating thread. Taken as a whole it is almost a pseudo essay on what really is photography?
As long as there is a technique to manipulate a photograph, it will be done, and it will not go away, it will always be a "craze" in one form or another. Our creativity and individuality will see to that. That individuality goes hand in hand with our likes and dislikes also. I have known many photographers that have spent their lives close to penniless shooting some of the most majestic, in my opinion, art I have ever seen. By the same token, I know others who have made small fortunes, again my opinion, shooting run of the mill junk. Bokeh though? That is just another by product of picking up a camera.
I added the photo below because it is one that is a bit divisive. A lot of people truly despise this shot, and others truly love it. The reason for both groups views are usually the same. "The blurry background", or "bokeh", if they watch ads or know anything about photography. The question would be, was the bokeh necessary for the shot? For this shot I would say yes. In the background there was another coffee maker, three foaming cups, coffee canisters, flamingo solo cup and more that would have made the espresso machine lost in the shot. The other question would be, was the shot necessary? I would say probably not. On the whole, I still personally like it, even if I can shred it on a critique. Oh, Leica CL(Digital) W/Voigtlander f1.4.
So no, no craze is going away, photography is about following the rules, getting the perfect shot and making it look just the way you want. Photography is also about breaking those same rules, looking for those unique, unusual shots and just capturing whats really there. Photography is also about so much more.
Photography is as unique as everyone that picks up a camera, no matter if it as a cheap disposable from the drug store or a bank busting medium format and everything in between. Phones, pinhole, APC, 4/3, whatever you shoot with, I have seen amazing work from all of these. Just keep shooting and let it all come together for whatever you like, and don't worry about the peanut gallery.
ehb .jpg
 

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