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When to seek uniformity?

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
In a current thread on a fine vintage East German lens, the wide aperture lens throws the background out of focus.











Many photographers, instead, insist on equal treatment of all elements over the entire frame. so for them, vignetting and "bokeh" are out!

Still, a lot of us don't want or need such obsessional uniformity in image recording. After all, our brains, is ranks everything: threats get noticed first! Obviously a beautiful maiden gets special attention as does a pile of gold coins. So we observe things according to the importance. So for myself, I allocate generally of all lens effects, (illumination, contrast, clarity, saturation and sharpness to different parts of the photograph. What do you do.............


  • Insist on small apertures when you can, to get everything in sharp focus?

  • Sharpen, brighten etc the entire frame, center to the edges to make things as even as possible?

  • Just use what the lens delivers?


Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Well, let me give my own perspective.

I rarely close down the lens aperture, as to me some parts of the view or even the main subject need be less well defined. But this plan fails in certain special locations. While some bokeh rich shots a very artsy and effective, the milieu of a Cathedral or concert hall might require a totally different approach for most of the work.

So, for example, photographing on an art-rich architectural space, a wedding in a Church or an Orchestra on a temporary stage in a synagogue, with amazing Arc for the scrolls, means that one has to get detail, posture, interactions and gestures of many people yet still have the architectural beauty and detailed art surfaces faithfully reproduced.

In these cases, one needs to use a high ISO setting, in the low light levels common, aperture of at least f4.0 and rely on both noise reduction and sharpening to bring out all the beautiful surfaces and people equally. For this, ideally one would use a large piece of film and flash, but I use the Sony A7R and struggle. I would like everything to be sharp and I now believe that the solution would be to try the Pentax 645Z as that has large pixels and a reasonably high ISO.

Ideally, to get everything uniform;y in focus, part from choosing the 645Z, using a 35 mm sensor, one could use at least f5.6 when working from a distance and a fast enough shutter speed with a very sensitive camera to limit the noise. I'd think that the Canon 1DX and the Sony A7S are likely as not , the best tools for this job. This is a case where no end of photoshop wizardry can make up for a large sensor with large pixels and the wizardry built in to deliver painlessly in low light.

Apart from this example, I am happy only pulling out a few important features. So whenever Dr. Klaus Schmitt posts pictures with with his vintage East German lenses, I pay attention. So far I have gotten very beautiful tools to experiment with, for just a song, (as few photographers realize what treasures are available for use with adapters to Canon, Olympus ad Panasonic micro 4/3 and of course Sony Nex and A7 series cameras).



Asher
 

Rachel McLain

New member
Hmm, I tend to like a lot of negative space. Between shooting handheld in natural light and having the equipment I have, my macros tend to have a very small depth of field. But it's a look I like. (Someday I'd like another lens that would allow me to have a bit more dof, but for the most part I like what I do.)

Rach
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hmm, I tend to like a lot of negative space. Between shooting handheld in natural light and having the equipment I have, my macros tend to have a very small depth of field. But it's a look I like. (Someday I'd like another lens that would allow me to have a bit more dof, but for the most part I like what I do.)

Rach
Hi Rachel,

Have you ever looked at stacking software? One mounts the camera on a tripod and progressively adjusts focus to cover the entire flower or insect. Then the software takes the sharp focus pixels from each plane and builds for you one amazing macro, with so much detail of every insect bristle from the antennae and forelegs to the end of it's rear foot pads!

Asher
 

Rachel McLain

New member
I know people do that, but no I have not tried it.

I don't like working with a tripod (I use one for portraits which I do very very rarely). When I shoot my macros, I make so many tiny adjustments of my position in order to get the light how I want it that it makes using a tripod pretty much impossible.

In addition, when I'm shooting the things on the reflective plate, I have the camera in one hand and the plate in another so I am adjusting the plate and the camera until the light and reflections are how I want. I don't see any way to do that with a tripod without making myself insane. :) (And without the light being different by the time I got a tripod with the camera and a tripod with the plate adjusted correctly!)

Rach


Hi Rachel,

Have you ever looked at stacking software? One mounts the camera on a tripod and progressively adjusts focus to cover the entire flower or insect. Then the software takes the sharp focus pixels from each plane and builds for you one amazing macro, with so much detail of every insect bristle from the antennae and forelegs to the end of it's rear foot pads!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I know people do that, but no I have not tried it.

I don't like working with a tripod (I use one for portraits which I do very very rarely). When I shoot my macros, I make so many tiny adjustments of my position in order to get the light how I want it that it makes using a tripod pretty much impossible.

In addition, when I'm shooting the things on the reflective plate, I have the camera in one hand and the plate in another so I am adjusting the plate and the camera until the light and reflections are how I want. I don't see any way to do that with a tripod without making myself insane. :) (And without the light being different by the time I got a tripod with the camera and a tripod with the plate adjusted correctly!)

Rach
Rachel,

It all depends on your own reaction. If you have achieved all you dream of, then fine. OTOH, I offer that you can put your plate on a tripod with an adjustable level - relatively cheap - from Sunway, several options here or Acratech. That's what I use.





from B&H it's $149


Then you can add a simple light that you can move to get exactly what you want. at that point you can move forward, taking deeper levels.

Getting bitingly sharp pictures of insects is a challenge. For flowers, your technique with more limited focus depth has given beautiful artistic results.

Still, focus stacking will give you a very amazing experience as you grasp the new power you have at your creative finger tips!


Asher
 

Jerome Marot

Active member
Many photographers, instead, insist on equal treatment of all elements over the entire frame. so for them, vignetting and "bokeh" are out!
Some photographers do that. Lewis Baltz, for example, used a Leica with Technical pan for Park City to insure that everything was sharp front to back.


Still, a lot of us don't want or need such obsessional uniformity in image recording.
Some photographers prefer limited depth of field. Lewis Baltz, again, used much more limited depth of field for his later work at Fos-sur-mer.

Part of the reason was that Fos-sur-mer is near the sea and the air is almost always a bit foggy, whereas Park city is in the mountains and the cooler air is more transparent. What was possible here was not possible there.

Isn't that a reasonable approach: use the depth of field which is adapted to the subject?
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Some photographers do that. Lewis Baltz, for example, used a Leica with Technical pan for Park City to insure that everything was sharp front to back.




Some photographers prefer limited depth of field. Lewis Baltz, again, used much more limited depth of field for his later work at Fos-sur-mer.

Part of the reason was that Fos-sur-mer is near the sea and the air is almost always a bit foggy, whereas Park city is in the mountains and the cooler air is more transparent. What was possible here was not possible there.

Isn't that a reasonable approach: use the depth of field which is adapted to the subject?
Jerome,

Exactly how I feel. however, some folk are unrelentingly stubborn and unfortunately, this can impede their appreciation of new work they see of others. As creators, we are best when we do the things we are used to but even better when we can adapt what we're expert at and turn on a dime to take a different approach with a totally dissimilar scene or circumstance.

I had a model come to me for a shoot and was going to photograph her with a shallow DOF in a conservative blue dress and then I saw he skin color and wild hair and switched from a perfectly cool set up to throwing her a crumpled loose yellow dress from my storage drawer and some Sienna colored burlap rolls like big bandagers. I put on the fan and she moved and I changed the DOF to cover all the positions of the burlap. It was a blast. Had I not responded to that impulse and been totally open, I couldn't have made the most of a very good actor.

I do get miffed when someone objects to another photographers finished work with a complaint about DOF. I've seen that too often. That reflects rigidity of thinking. After all, that photographer is making his/her photograph, not trying to satisfy us.

I hope I do not trespass in this regard.

Folk asking for critique, however, shouldn't have us approve of everything either. Not that we a "right" but we might have judgement of what might work for a purpose, be it a headshot, corporate publication or something to sell in an art show.

The right balance is to be open to change but stick by one's core convictions unless it's suicidal, LOLl!

Asher

BTW, thanks for the Lewis Balz reference. I admit my lack of deep knowledge here and appreciate the addition of Beltz to my artists to check on today. How on earth can one be educated, it 's a moving target!!
 
Hi Rachel,

Have you ever looked at stacking software? One mounts the camera on a tripod and progressively adjusts focus to cover the entire flower or insect. Then the software takes the sharp focus pixels from each plane and builds for you one amazing macro, with so much detail of every insect bristle from the antennae and forelegs to the end of it's rear foot pads!

Asher
Focus stacking has been going on for thousands of years or perhaps millions. The human brain does this automatically with the data sent by the retina when it processes the real optical image (in-focus areas and out-of-focus areas) formed in the eye. This synthesised "image" is then presented to our consciousness to constitute what we think we see when we look at things.

Consider the old-master painters. Never once do we see optical out-of-focus effects or bokeh. They painted the pictures in their brains not the pictures in their eyes.

The deep question for photography is whether it should applaud real optical images with their in-focus, out-of-focus, and bokeh effects. Or should photography, by sufficient image processing and artifice, recreate our subjective visual experience of the world when we look at things?

I say let's go with the real optical image. Everything else: focus stacking, stitching, HDR, content editing, levels, contrasts, saturations, whatever, is painting and drawing all over again just with different tools.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
What the "Great Masters" did with soft edges!

Consider the old-master painters. Never once do we see optical out-of-focus effects or bokeh. They painted the pictures in their brains not the pictures in their eyes.
Your statement is pretty definitive...and I must say gives one cause to rethink the art of destroying sharp edges in photographic works intended to evoke emotions and not just document fact. So is it true that the "Old Masters" echewed and avoided such artifices? Well this is not quite the case, Maris. Once I find one tiny example, then your principle demanding exclusion of out of focus effects becomes questionable. Look here, for example. Leonardo's Mona Lisa uses his sfumato technique with meticulously shared mid-tones to obfuscate edges.

The Cooke PS945 LF lens does it differently - it paints a layers of out of focus bright light all over the perfectly focussed subject, by bring light from the purposely designed perimeter of this special lens. It's a modern reproduction of the famed "Visual Quality" lenses of Pinkham and Smith of classic photographic times with sharp portraits having a certain magic as if "finished" with a most delicate layer of angel dust!

Asher
 

James Lemon

Active member
Your statement is pretty definitive...and I must say gives one cause to rethink the art of destroying sharp edges in photographic works intended to evoke emotions and not just document fact. So is it true that the "Old Masters" echewed and avoided such artifices? Well this is not quite the case, Maris. Once I find one tiny example, then your principle demanding exclusion of out of focus effects becomes questionable. Look here, for example. Leonardo's Mona Lisa uses his sfumato technique with meticulously shared mid-tones to obfuscate edges.

The Cooke PS945 LF lens does it differently - it paints a layers of out of focus bright light all over the perfectly focussed subject, by bring light from the purposely designed perimeter of this special lens. It's a modern reproduction of the famed "Visual Quality" lenses of Pinkham and Smith of classic photographic times with sharp portraits having a certain magic as if "finished" with a most delicate layer of angel dust!

Asher
Hello Asher

I like to shoot wide open all of the time not only for the resolution but for the bouquet to be a large part of the composition and some lenses produce a bokeh that is too distracting, depending on how the lens is used. But an image with emotional impact is a good photo!

Best, regards
James
 
Your statement is pretty definitive...and I must say gives one cause to rethink the art of destroying sharp edges in photographic works intended to evoke emotions and not just document fact. So is it true that the "Old Masters" echewed and avoided such artifices? Well this is not quite the case, Maris. Once I find one tiny example, then your principle demanding exclusion of out of focus effects becomes questionable. Look here, for example. Leonardo's Mona Lisa uses his sfumato technique with meticulously shared mid-tones to obfuscate edges...

Asher
Asher I'd say the example you link to, Marion Boddy-Evans dissertation on Leonardo's use of sfumato to blend adjacent tones, isn't a premonition of optical out-of-focus effects or the bokeh of lenses. I reckon Leonardo reacted against standard medieval painter's approach of drawing the picture and then colouring-in between the outlines. Ok, there was some blending of adjacent tones to avoid a posterised look but the final result was a striking albeit magnificent version of a child's colouring-in book. Look at Giotto del Bondone's (1266 - 1337) frescos to see this obvious effect. Even Andrea del Verrocchio (1435 - 1488) , Leonardo's apprentice master, did much the same thing. No wonder Leonardo perfected sfumato to break away from old school techniques and present his own genius.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher I'd say the example you link to, Marion Boddy-Evans dissertation on Leonardo's use of sfumato to blend adjacent tones, isn't a premonition of optical out-of-focus effects or the bokeh of lenses. I reckon Leonardo reacted against standard medieval painter's approach of drawing the picture and then colouring-in between the outlines. Ok, there was some blending of adjacent tones to avoid a posterised look but the final result was a striking albeit magnificent version of a child's colouring-in book. Look at Giotto del Bondone's (1266 - 1337) frescos to see this obvious effect. Even Andrea del Verrocchio (1435 - 1488) , Leonardo's apprentice master, did much the same thing. No wonder Leonardo perfected sfumato to break away from old school techniques and present his own genius.
Maris,

You've an educated cerebrum, more than most of us! Yes, sfumato was a great advance. I understand your argument that it does not herald soft focus, but it certainly solves the same problem of harsh edges. You must concede that as photography is "drawing with light", then we can choose the "pencils" character of laying down the marks on the the light sensitive layer.

I know several photographers, (collected by museums worldwide), who've not, in all their work, used apertures on LF below F22! One has never ever even touched a strobe, either! So, for sure, we can manage to make impressive photography without wide open lenses. I admit further that "Bokeh" or soft focus or even a PS945, are unlikely to deliver Da Vinci's! I'd even go so far as to wager that should art museums suddenly take it on themselves to utterly ban "Bokeh" and soft focus from all their galleries, lighting and composition would improve!

Still, for now, these very stratagems of altering focus can bring to the fore, emotions evoked all over the lips of flowers, as you can see below!


Beautiful Easter Sunday, cold but sunny and plenty of people out, so I took my modified Visionar for a walk....



........in the hands of a photographer with refined observational skills.


Asher
 

Martin Stephens

New member
Old Masters didn't paint out of focus? Heh, heh, well no. And many modern masters didn't paint in focus. I wouldn't use any of those analysis in photography, which is a new form, and need not follow older forms.

I say beware of the cliche. Anyone with an f1.4 lens takes pictures of flower blossoms sitting in a nice, um.. bokeh. If that's what you have to say, then that's what you have to say. But, how are you going to make sure it's not another cliched photo?

Imagine the expression you want, then use whatever photographic tools will get you there.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Old Masters didn't paint out of focus? Heh, heh, well no. And many modern masters didn't paint in focus. I wouldn't use any of those analysis in photography, which is a new form, and need not follow older forms.

I say beware of the cliche. Anyone with an f1.4 lens takes pictures of flower blossoms sitting in a nice, um.. bokeh. If that's what you have to say, then that's what you have to say. But, how are you going to make sure it's not another cliched photo?

Imagine the expression you want, then use whatever photographic tools will get you there.
Martin,

Can't one also say that of anyone taking bitingly sharp pictures with uniform focus of all the picture elements in all parts of the frame? So then one would be faced with the same dilemm of finding everyone using this style.

I think you might a free that the choice of creating different allocations of sharp focus is one that might be better left as an open option - to be decided as one builds the concept of a picture.

Why should everything be give a uniform "rank" in a picture and why should a rose always appear from a creamy bokeh or one adorned with sparking spheres?

It could be that one does indeed fix on absolute uniformity of all included elements, but then that must contribute to the success of that picture, for the single face appearing to emerge from a crowd, but Martin, you are probably saying all that but just in a more succinct way!

Asher
 

Dr Klaus Schmitt

Active member
Well, since my works are (surprisingly and unknowingly) used here as examples, may I throw in my 2 cts here:

I'm not really a big fan of "bubbly background bokeh" (guess I just coined a new term "BBB" here...), [except I want it as a part of the overall image to create a specific "look"] I rather prefer this ultra-smooth silky BG, which usually I achieve by using very fast lenses wide open for my work (as above) and their razor blade thin DOF to center the part I want to be "seen".

Funny enough, I'd rather not talk about my work, I rather have them "talk" to the viewer itself, and let it create in him/her a certain emotion...


Examples:

"Like Fire" - deliberately using softness/BG bokeh to achieve, well, find out...




versus

"Just Tulips" - deliberately reduced to just, well, feel for yourself...




and then compare what makes them so different (it is actually the same tulip type)
 

Michaela Taylor

New member
I personally like a little bokeh, it brings the main subject to the front and allows your eye to naturally focus on the subject without any concentration which allows more thought to go to the subject after all the flower, bug, chain, whatever is the photo. I even use a form of bokeh in my art, I frame the main subject/s front and mostly center and then do a very abstract blurd background and foreground allowing the subject to have center stage as it were.

This allows what is important to come across in both art and photo I feel :) .
 

Roger Lund

New member
Well you had to ask..

I normally use a lens based on what i'm trying to achieve. Also Full frame vs crop has a huge effect on DOF. In light room I will adjust clarity or contrast to minimize or maximize bokeh. Lens selection also has a huge effect on Both DOF and bokeh, as some lenses have what some call noisy bokeh, or bokeh with Character. I personally like this, but some like a buttery smooth bokeh.


Some examples? Of course! I have a couple hundred thousand around here someplace...

Jupiter 8 - 50mm F2.0 on EOS-M Wide open with small tube.




Yashica 50mm F1.7 on EOS-M Wide open.



E Ludwig Meritar Red V 50mm f2.9 on EOS-M Wide Open.




vs something like the Minolta Auto W. Rokkor-SG F 3.5 28mm Wide open.




More in the next post.
 

Roger Lund

New member
Some Actual shots with Thin DOF.

Jupiter 8 - 50mm F2.0 on EOS-M Wide open with small tube.





Porst Color Reflex MC 50mm 1.7 wide open.








More examples.
 

Roger Lund

New member
helios 44 Silver wide open on EOS-M.







Helios 44-4 wide open on EOS-M.





Sorry for three posts I wanted to share some shots with thin DOF shot wide open.
 
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