Friday, February 29, 2008


let me see, originally uploaded by kestra_400.

Bokeh describes the blurry quality of out of focus areas in a photograph. At large apertures, in the right settings, sometimes the light is transformed to resemble little Christmas ornaments. That's bokeh. Different lenses all have their own characteristic bokeh. In some of the flickr groups you can run across lens arguments debating the "good" or "bad" bokeh of one lens versus another. This post isn't about what makes good bokeh, though. I don't know anything about that.

I'm just here to show you this photo and tell you that kestra_400 is one of a band of photographers that does beautiful low light/available light photography. And he does it on film. My own experience shooting film is limited to my Holga and an old, crumbling Nikon that I have in no way wrapped my head around yet so there's not much insight I can offer into the way this photo was shot unfortunately. All I know is that it's not always easy to find places that bokeh beautifully.

I wonder if it has to do with the city. Many of the most beautifully executed photographs that feature predominant bokeh are set in the metropolises of Eastern Asia: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei. It could just be my affinity towards tiny points of shiny light shooting out of the darkness. Drop one sharp subject in there, and I'm pretty much guaranteed to drop my jaw in return. I really like how in this shot the person in the foreground seems to be peering into the distance, admiring the lights just like we are.

It's great how there not only a variety in the colors, but also intensity, and nature of the blurred out lights. There are the blue solid lights that are clumping at the bottom, a similar clump to the left of orange lights, a row of red lights coming down diagonally, and then translucent-seeming bubbles of yellow and dark red floating up to the top. Staring at those lights, I can't help but guess what I'm looking at. I try to piece together a scene in my mind, but everything dissolves as soon I start to make any sense of it.

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