What happened to the bokeh???

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Aug 1, 2006
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I'm looking for some "every day useful" insight on what may have happened in yesterday's picture of the day. :smile:

Here's the photo. Shot with my 50/1.4 at f/2. Usually I find this lens to have a nice smooth bokeh. In this picture, I find the background to be jagged and distracting. It was my one major disappointment in the photo.

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Being very unhappy with yesterday's bokeh, and curious as to this atypical result (at least in my experience with the 50/1.4 lens), I set out today to trouble shoot. This was not a "lens test" per se, and was not performed in the sterile fashion that so many are. This was a "bokeh test" in real life conditions. Thus, no tripod, no measured distances to subject, etc.

Shot the 35, 50 and 85mm lenses at f/2 (the max aperture of the 35mm). Manually set exposure, custom WB off a card. Shot so that Vikka covered roughly the same portion of the frame (i.e. leaving a similar amount of background above her head.....where the horrid bokeh happened in yesterday's shot).

Vikka at 35mm​

These were shot in approximately the same location, at the same time of day (yesterday was 14:30, today was 14:10), and are close in exposure (yesterday was ISO 200, f/2, 1/320, today was ISO 200, f/2, 1/500). I know the bad bokeh has something to do with the blades of grass and how the light was reflected off them. I tried to shoot Vikka at a similar angle to how I shot Emilie to emulate that effect.

Any thoughts? Ideas on how to avoid/prevent this in future photos??

Thanks!!! :biggrin:

(PS. What dog wouldn't smile for a piece of pepperoni?? :biggrin: :tongue:)
 
Joined
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my experience is that the bokeh of the 85s are smoother than the 50s which are smoother than the 35/2. the only thing you can do about it is to use backgrounds which are further away so that they would be more blurred.
 
Joined
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my experience is that the bokeh of the 85s are smoother than the 50s which are smoother than the 35/2. the only thing you can do about it is to use backgrounds which are further away so that they would be more blurred.
Yes, that makes sense, b/c DOF is related to focal length. So a longer focal length (shot closer to subject) should render your most OOF background. And I agree with your observations.

I just felt that the background behind Emilie (photo #1) seemed unusually harsh for the 50mm. And when I compare it to today's photo of Vikka (shot in similar light, same location and "as close as I could emulate" angle), today's pic looks more characteristic of what I expect from the 50.

It just looked odd to me yesterday and I was wondering if there's some technical point that I'm missing/not understanding. I always look to learn from poor results, its the best way to improve! :smile:

the 1st one is a great pic and the background is kinda cool
Thanks Randy! :smile: I loved her expression and was so excited about the photo...........then the disappointment of that bokeh when I saw it in PP. :rolleyes:
 
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Atlanta, GA
my experience is that the bokeh of the 85s are smoother than the 50s which are smoother than the 35/2. the only thing you can do about it is to use backgrounds which are further away so that they would be more blurred.
Well technically it's the same amount of blurring if I understand it right. It's just that the perspective changes and therefore you see less of the background (so it's like you're enlarging the blurring?)
 
Joined
May 4, 2008
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Stafford, UK
I'm looking for some "every day useful" insight on what may have happened in yesterday's picture of the day. :smile:

Here's the photo. Shot with my 50/1.4 at f/2. Usually I find this lens to have a nice smooth bokeh. In this picture, I find the background to be jagged and distracting. It was my one major disappointment in the photo.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

First picture is first class, if you are so much concerned with background crop it - which would tweak this excellent picture a bit further IMHO
 
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Nov 15, 2006
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Upstate SC
Gretchen, you didn't specify what or if any sharpening/contrast adjustments were made. It looks to me like the bg behind Vikka with the 35 and 50 are doing the same thing, the effect is just a little more pronunced in b/w. Sharpening and/or bumping up contrast along with the b/w conversion would almost certainly exaggerate the "wavy" appearance of the bokeh you are seeing.

Not that it makes you feel any better, but I concur with everyone else's assessment that this is a fantastic image, and you're being a little anal :wink:
 
Joined
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It could be different sharpening or that the grass on the b/w picture is longer.
It was just cut yesterday (shortly before the BW picture was shot) and I don't think it grew "that" much overnight (at least I hope not!!!). :smile:

Gretchen, you didn't specify what or if any sharpening/contrast adjustments were made. It looks to me like the bg behind Vikka with the 35 and 50 are doing the same thing, the effect is just a little more pronunced in b/w. Sharpening and/or bumping up contrast along with the b/w conversion would almost certainly exaggerate the "wavy" appearance of the bokeh you are seeing.

Not that it makes you feel any better, but I concur with everyone else's assessment that this is a fantastic image, and you're being a little anal :wink:
1 layer of curves and 1 layer of levels was applied to both yesterday and today's photos. I wasn't happy with how yesterday's color balance was coming out....too yellow initially, then corrected and had a strong magenta area where her hands meet her face, so finally I took it to BW. I know I like my BW contrasty, so I did bump that up afterwards (a step not present in today's color shots).

Sharpening was: selective sharpening of the eyes in all shots, and then an overall 85/0.8/0 USM after down-sizing.

I think you're right though, the BW conversion and contrast bump is emphasizing the bg more than I'd hoped.
 
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To me, the blades of grass in the background of the 30mm shot with the dog have the same sort of "weird" look like the original shot has. I think it's not as noticeable in the 50mm shot of the dog because the grass is lighter. I think a lot of it has to do with your BW conversion. To test my theory, I took your 50mm shot of Vikka, and did a BW conversion in CS3. I tried to match the tones of the grass as closely as I could. Nothing else was done. I think it shows pretty much the same bokeh pattern as your original. Was the grass longer in the first shot as opposed to Vikka? If so, I believe that is why the wavyness is more pronounced in the first image.

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Joined
Aug 1, 2006
Messages
13,855
Location
Massachusetts
Wow, thank you!! :smile: Looks like you Southeners (Vinman in SC, Medic in NC) have this all figured out! :biggrin: I do appreciate your time in doing the conversion, as I'm actually trying to pack up myself and the kids for a trip to Fort Mill, SC for the next week. :biggrin:

The grass was of equal length, it was cut just before I shot the Emilie photo, and Vikka was the next day.

Very interesting how the conversion shows what color can hide. :smile:

I appreciate everyone's help, thanks guys!!!! :smile:
 

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