Picture This!
Bokeh: Painterly Backgrounds Using Shallow Depth Of Field

This month’s Picture This! assignment was “Bokeh,” the character of out-of-focus parts of the frame. Bokeh, Japanese for “fuzzy,” has been interpreted photographically (and philosophically) in many ways, but our take is how circles of confusion can be an enhancement when used to highlight and reinforce the main subject. Some claim that lenses with more blades form a more satisfying bokeh character, but from our point of view it is how out-of-focus areas turn “painterly” and, while indistinct, become an integral part of the composition.

A Paperwhite Morning
Touches of light and streaks of green and one red spot make for a delightful visual variety in this photo by Kathy Ritchie. She photographed with a Canon PowerShot S3 IS with an exposure of f/3.5 at 1⁄1600 sec.
© 2009, Kathy Ritchie, All Rights Reserved

Bleeding Hearts
John Sawyer caught the graceful arc of this plant complemented by color, light, and form in the background. He shot with a Canon EOS 300D and a Canon EF 50mm II lens with an exposure of f/4.5 at 1⁄320 sec at ISO 800.
© 2009, John Sawyer, All Rights Reserved

Baby Robin
The pine boughs take on a decidedly brush stroke quality in this photo by Stephanie Silver. She worked with a Pentax K100D and a 50-200mm lens.
© 2009, Stephanie Silver, All Rights Reserved

Garden Wildflowers
The tree trunks, foliage, and background blossoms all take on a painterly effect in this delightfully colorful image by Gerry Holmes. Exposure with a Canon EOS 5D and a Canon EF 24-105mm IS lens was f/6.3 at 1⁄500 sec.
© 2009, Gerry Holmes, All Rights Reserved

Pink Flower
Sharp detail is offset by an echo of the color and form in this photo by Susan Cohen, made with a Nikon D80 and a Tamron 90mm lens with an exposure of f/5.6 at 1⁄60 sec.
© 2009, Susan Cohen, All Rights Reserved

Butterfly On Milkweeds
The fanciful colors and shapes behind this butterfly make for a magical world compliments of bokeh. Fred E. Clifford shot with a Nikon D300 and a 300mm f/4 lens and a 1.4 tele-converter with the camera mounted on a Manfrotto 055 tripod atop an Arcatech ball head. Exposure was f/11 at 1⁄250 sec at ISO 400 with a -0.7 EV exposure compensation.
© 2009, Fred E. Clifford, All Rights Reserved

Floating Flower
As part of her series on floating flowers, Dominika Gardocka used rays of light in the blue background to create a serene moment. She worked with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi and a 50mm lens; exposure was f/5.6 at 1⁄1600 sec.
© 2009, Dominika Gardocka, All Rights Reserved

Light At The End Of The Hoh Rain Forest
Barney Burke made this shot in Olympic National Park of moss hanging from a tree. The background is as abstract as it gets. He photographed with a Canon EOS 5D and a Canon 135mm f/2 lens.
© 2009, Barney Burke, All Rights Reserved

Purple Flower, Folsom Lake
Gene Langer isolated this small flower amid a field with his Canon EOS 20D and a Canon 180mm Macro lens with an exposure of f/5.6 at 1⁄250 sec.
© 2009, Gene Langer, All Rights Reserved

Catherine Terroni wrote: “I photographed this tulip from almost ground level with the sun shining into the cup.” The colorful touches in the background are also tulips. Exposure with a Nikon Coolpix 8700 was f/4.2 at 1⁄500 sec.
© 2009, Catherine Terroni, All Rights Reserved

Shores Of A Lagoon
Described by Marty Knippel as a series of “multiple overlapping layers,” this photo was made with a Pentax K20D and a Pentax 18-250mm lens with an exposure of f/5.6 at 1⁄90 sec at ISO 200.
© 2009, Marty Knippel, All Rights Reserved

Rose Surrounded By Bluebells
Angela Eichhorst-Maher made this colorful and delightfully chaotic shot with a Nikon D300 and a Nikkor 70-300mm lens with an exposure of f/5.6 at 1⁄500 sec.
© 2009, Angela Eichhorst-Maher, All Rights Reserved

Silhouette Of Cosmos
This bokeh lesson came courtesy of Kristy Campbell. She photographed with a Canon EOS Rebel and a 50mm f/1.8 lens.
© 2009, Kristy Campbell, All Rights Reserved

Male Turkey
Darrell Sano made this very clever juxtaposition of a turkey profile against the display of another male with a Nikon D300 and a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure was f/3.2 at 1⁄400 sec.
© 2009, Darrell Sano, All Rights Reserved

Red Tulip
Carolina L. Shea caught wisps of green and red in a soft background that makes the still foreground flower appear to be in motion. She photographed with a Nikon D80 and a Micro Nikkor 105mm lens with an exposure of f/5.6 at 1⁄100 sec.
© 2009, Carolina L. Shea, All Rights Reserved