bad bokeh

This photography stuff is so much fun, you guys.

I mean, don't get me wrong....I still have absolutely no clue what I'm doing half of the time. But I just love the feeling of capturing a moment in our lives and then spicing it up a bit through editing. I love reading about photography, learning new techniques, and figuring out how to master exposure...something that I work on each day. In fact, I can even claim to be nearly fully manual with my camera, reverting to the AV or TV mode only rarely.

During my many hours of research online, I kept reading about 'bokeh' and never really paid it much attention. But then I snapped out of it and finally understood that bokeh is the fun blurry background in a narrow depth of field image. My favorite thing! How did I not know the proper terminology?

Some people get even more specific with bokeh interpretations and label those random 'dots' of light in a Christmas tree shot as 'bokeh.' Ooooh, I love that even more! It makes me yearn for Christmas just so I can shoot some fun images full of blurry, dotty light. I'm just not sure I can even pronounce this word correctly....does it sound like Boca, as in Boca Burger? Who knows. I likey.

When you are a experienced photographer, you can capture fabulously inspiring bokeh images like this one from Rachywhoo on Flickr. Don't worry, I got her permission before posting this to avoid any copyright drama:

Isn't it just swoon-worthy? Sigh. Actually her whole stream on Flickr inspires me much like many other photographers on that site. But that would be a whole separate post, now wouldn't it?

But if you take it a step further and search for 'bokeh christmas lights' on Flickr you'll get this as a result. Completely fabulous and truly inspirational for a newbie photographer like myself. I could surf Flickr for hours without even noticing it, you know?

It makes me want the 50mm/1.8 lens even worse because the kit lens isn't cutting it for dreamy blurry backgrounds anymore. You see, according to the photography world bokeh is bad/ugly when it's too harsh and when the dots are too bold. It's good bokeh if it's more faded and hexagonal like Rachywhoo up there or any of the shots from that Flickr link. The inexpensive 1.8 would fit the bill right now for my obsession with narrow depth of field and it could yield some fabulous angular bokeh. I smell a birthday gift next month, right Nate?

And now, I will show you my version of it bad and/or ugly, it's all I got and it's still rather interesting, no?

Out came the Christmas lights and in came Henry for this little shoot:

See, this is him lights on:

Doesn't he look amused?

When I finally discovered how to put my lens into manual focus I got some fun bokeh [although 'bad' according to the photography world.] I had to use a little flashlight to give SOME kind of external light or else my camera would have gone on strike:



I love this one even though Nate's eyes darted towards Henry's privates right away. What a perv!

More abstract bokeh....




It's so much fun, for real.

Another fun subject? Plain old Henry. Cute, cuddly, and laid back enough to wear my robe on his head:)




Pensive Henry, staring out the rainy window on Sunday afternoon:

Ooooh, raindrops on our window mean another exercise in focusing skills:


But wait....what is that white blob behind the raindrops?

Same shot, different focus:
That was our little snow pile....the pitiful reminder of winter holding onto a thread before Spring-like rains washed it all away. I was cheering for the snow pile to vanish, cursing at it through clenched teeth when all of a sudden....

Night came and the raindrops turned into snow. Here is what our snow pile morphed into within a few hours:

Hate. Do not like. Please go away. Ugh.

As I was hanging out of our front door while avoiding physical contact with more snow [if I don't step on it maybe it will go away?] a car drove by. I'm sure they thought I was a mad woman but I kind of like the headlights in this shot:

And when I turned around to walk back upstairs, I saw this little trophy dog awaiting my return. Yes, buddy, I will come back upstairs and pretend it's not snowing anymore.
So that's that. My lessons learned in bokeh, Mother Nature, and more Henry. Do you love/hate these subjects as much as me?


  1. Ohhh, love it. I'm gonna have to work on that.

    And I'm pretty sure it's pronounced bokay.

  2. Ohhhh...I love bokeh. Thanks for the lesson :)

  3. Oh. And I should have added - I know how it's pronounced thanks to the pioneer woman. She did a whole post on bokeh - I really love how she doesn't just use light to produce bokeh. She uses everything in the background - flowers, leaves, etc.

  4. great post from PW, Kristal. I love that woman and use her actions frequently but never read that particular post before. I agree, some of my favorite boo-KAY :) is not from christmas lights at all, but shimmery flowers in the background. I wanted to post about a million more images from Flickr with that effect but get too nervous about copyright issues.

  5. Would love to learn how to do that. I really want a super nice camera and photography lessons when I have children. But maybe my dog deserves some nice shots like that too. perhaps this christmas...

  6. Such a cool thing! I sooo need to learn how to get my camera out of auto's only randomly that I'll get a picture to focus how I want it to.

  7. I love your blog and your pictures. Henry is so adorable--those EYES. I feel like he is an old man looking out of those eyes, being so bored with everything. He is the perfect model.

  8. I like the last few of your light pictures. they don't even look real.

    I also like the rain drops. Beautiful.

  9. i just got a 50mm last week. i'm having a lot of fun with it- you'll love it.


  10. Mike says that it is pronounced the flowers.

  11. Did you know the Pioneer Woman has a free set of photoshop actions to make your pics as fabulous as hers?!! I JUST saw it on another blog and thought, I WISH I HAD PHOTOSHOP!

  12. actually, i can be pronounced either way: bou-kay or boke-uh. :)

  13. Wow-I've always wondered how to do that! Off to figure out if I'm capable of beautiful bokeh!


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