A new club, membership is open.

Want to join a new club?

It has the following benefits;

Going against the trend.

Going against commonly held beliefs.

Creative freedom in a way you may not have (deliberately) tried before.

It’s called the “Anti Bokeh” club.

The name is a bit misleading, because any image in any format in any circumstances with any transitional or fully out of focus areas has Bokeh, but the common thinking is more is more and less is irrelevant, so the “anti Bokeh as we know it” club.

What you need.

A (prime) lens or two set to an aperture that is 1-2 stops past it’s expected diffraction limitation (f8-11 on a M43 camera, 16-22 on a full frame). This will have the effect of increasing depth of field*, allowing reactive manual focus with a wide latitude for error and will gently soften the image in a pleasantly old fashioned way. There will still be some shallow depth when you are really close to things, but generally images will tell a story from front to back.

An ISO set a little too high for the camera’s comfort (if possible), but not so high that movement blur is impossible in poor light (1600 on an EM5 mk1, don’t bother on an A7s). This will have the dual benefits of desaturating colour a little and add a little texture (noise/grain) to the image. No noise reduction required unless excess colour blotching looks decidedly ugly and digital.

Manual focus (see above), allowing for some slight focus misses. Pay attention to the characteristics of your chosen lens.

Lean a little on negative exposure compensation for a little added mystery, saturated colour and deeper shadows and also to protect highlights.

A purposefully gentle, but determined post processing work flow, designed to find the hidden beauty inside the image, not the more overt digital perfection on the surface. It is up to you whether you use colour or black and white, but try to avoid “perfecting” either. Just go with the beauty.


*Remember, Bokeh is not just wide open performance. It is the rendering of any transitional or out of focus element in any image that does not have perfect focus everywhere.

 Poor old Pepper is my muse again. This is the look I am after, just a little more interesting subject (sorry Pep). Depth of focus from front to back, with some transitional softness at the extremes.  Imagine the photo is of a migrant or refugee looking wistfully towards their destination, their salvation. Dramatic I know, but the compositional and cosmetic seeds are there.   EM5 ISO 3200, 17mm f11, +35 red, orange and blue channel, no added anything else (+0 sharpening).

Poor old Pepper is my muse again. This is the look I am after, just a little more interesting subject (sorry Pep). Depth of focus from front to back, with some transitional softness at the extremes. Imagine the photo is of a migrant or refugee looking wistfully towards their destination, their salvation. Dramatic I know, but the compositional and cosmetic seeds are there.

EM5 ISO 3200, 17mm f11, +35 red, orange and blue channel, no added anything else (+0 sharpening).

 Like many a famous film image, grain, close in softness (movement blur and diffraction), but at normal distances a pleasant and natural look. In a book sized print, the texture added by the grain would be preferred, not shunned and visual acuity would not suffer.

Like many a famous film image, grain, close in softness (movement blur and diffraction), but at normal distances a pleasant and natural look. In a book sized print, the texture added by the grain would be preferred, not shunned and visual acuity would not suffer.

 My normal processing and style. Pushing the little 17’s comfort envelope (and the EM5 sensor), I would shoot wide open and process to a more modern clean/punchy style.  The same hypothetical scenario as above, shot in the modern style, making the primary subject a portrait subject, blurring out the background. Maybe no less powerful, but different and over used. This single dimensional look is strong, but it is also lacking layers of story telling elements.

My normal processing and style. Pushing the little 17’s comfort envelope (and the EM5 sensor), I would shoot wide open and process to a more modern clean/punchy style. The same hypothetical scenario as above, shot in the modern style, making the primary subject a portrait subject, blurring out the background. Maybe no less powerful, but different and over used. This single dimensional look is strong, but it is also lacking layers of story telling elements.

 My normal import processing and a little brushwork on the focus point. Notice the texture on the blanket is effectively gone, removing a story telling element, adding a solid colour block.

My normal import processing and a little brushwork on the focus point. Notice the texture on the blanket is effectively gone, removing a story telling element, adding a solid colour block.

Result?

Hopefully a deeper image emotionally, less fixated on technical perfection or technique, freeing up unused parts of the compositional brain.

And a little bit of do it yourself film camera therapy.