Jan 06 2010

Picture Blurfect! Focusing on Bokeh

The land is under a deep blanket of snow, and it’s cold and dreary outside. A good time to snowshoe or ski, but with a sore back, I’m not inclined to venture forth. I’m in the mood for bright splashes of color, instead, and as I look through my collection of photos, it occurs to me that some of the most appealing are those with a narrow depth of field. Why? Because the while the main subject is in focus, the rest is blurred in an appealing way. This blurring is called bokeh, and many photographers—me included—deliberately compose pictures to emphasize it. There are several reasons to incorporate bokeh into pictures. Maintaining a narrow depth of field casts your main subject into sharp relief against the soft outlines of its surroundings. Other times, the blurred parts of the photo contribute to its overall artistic appeal.

Check out the following pictures to see what I mean. Look at them carefully. Sometimes you notice things that are hidden in plain sight. A splash of color in an otherwise colorless picture. A star where you wouldn’t expect it. A dew-speckled insect wing marking the leavings of a bat’s dinner. So, if your surroundings are bleak, or if you need to escape for a while, step into the pictures and relax.

I’ll begin with a wee dram, raised for Tom and Barb, in hopes that the next two days pass quickly and with complete success:

Wee Dram

Let’s have some flowers, too:

Blue Vetch

Sweet Clover




Unopened Flower

Busy Bee

Flowers aren’t the only examples of wild beauty, though:


Autumn Field




Wild Grapes

Pine Dew

Beech Bokeh


Orange Shrooms


Our own mark on the landscape, and our means of exploring it, can be intriguing when bokeh is evident:

Milkweed Along Fencerow


Bike Bokeh

Bike Bokeh

And winter even gives us a subtle beauty:

Ice Bokeh


But I’d rather think about warmer, more colorful times now…

Duck Marsh



Winter doldrums will pass. The sun will make its long trek north, flowers will bloom again, and the hummingbirds will follow to delight the eye and the imagination. Till then, we can enjoy them through our pictures.


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