The cover of Choate Rosemary Hall’s fall issue of The Bulletin features an image I took during their graduation ceremonies in June. The unaltered close-up image of the traditional red rose worn by the graduating class has an interesting quality due the lens’ “bokeh”.
Bokeh, as Wikipedia describes it better “is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting – good and bad bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field”.
It is exactly because of these unique optical qualities that blurs later induced in Photoshop often look so fake and unrealistic.
I intentionally wanted to create a visually simple image, and it all came together for a brief second as the student waited in line. This particular bokeh is the result of using a long lens (300mm) at the widest aperture and at a close focus distance which created a minimal depth of field.
The term “bokeh”, which comes from the japanese “boke”, meaning blur or haze, has actually only been in use since about 1996. I’ve read about photographers describing the bokeh qualities of certain lenses like wine connoisseurs talk about the intricacies of a particular vintage.
And yes, I know that in the headline, a bouquet means a bunch of flowers, not a single one, but hey, it kinda rhymed this way.