Hello bokeh!

Christmas...it's one of those times when all the pretty lights scream one thing....BOKEH!

Derived from the Japanese language, bokeh "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. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions." - according to Wikipedia.

Anyway, last night was a great opportunity to whip out my Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/85 lens and take advantage of its amazing shallow focus, while roaming round the colourful streets of Brisbane's Jindalee.

The first image below shows what the amazing "light house" looked like - some 80,000 hand-strung lights twinkled in an unbelievable 15-minute choreographed piece of blinking artwork. The other shots show slightly out-of-focus shots ranging from f/1.6 up to f/2.8.

My Zeiss lens is manual focus, so it's quite easy to get out of focus shots - simply twiddle the focus ring in the wrong direction, and voila....out of focus shots! But the more I played around with this counter-intuitive, out-of-focus style of photography, the more I liked it. There's more shots from the evening on my Flickr stream.

ISO 1600 | f4.0 | 1/20

ISO 800 | f1.6 | 1/40

ISO 800 | f/2.0 | 1/100
One of my buddies used the Lensbaby Creative Aperture Kit to create some gorgeous heart and star shaped bokeh at the same scene - check out her images here on Flickr.

"Get it sharp" is the mantra that's typically drilled into photographers from the word go, but you can have an awesome time experimenting with out of focus shots and shallow depth of field. Give it a go - it's the perfect time of year to play with bokeh!

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