Bokeh Buddha (73/365)

by Lee Santiva March. 14, 2019 218 views
Bokeh Buddha in the evening

Bokeh Buddha in the evening

Shooting for the bokeh effect was new for me and I tried it for the first time this week. Please use the comments to let me know which photo you like best as well as any tips for improvement.

To get prepared, I read the bokeh blog https://www.photoblog.com/learn/bokeh-effect/ and the related links. I was also inspired by Heike's beautiful Namaste bokeh https://www.photoblog.com/heike/2018/12/18/nmste-namaste/ . First I tried to achieve bokeh with raindrops on the window (it has been raining here everyday) however the effect was subtle and the photo was overexposed.

Bokeh Buddha at night

Bokeh Buddha at night

Next I decided to use a string of lights instead of raindrops. Seriously underestimating how difficult it is to find Christmas lights at this time of year, I looked for many days in several stores to find them, until I remembered IKEA - they have everything :-).

Photo #1 I liked the whiteness of the bokeh so I posted it also so you can see the progression, since it has several flaws, such as the fact that you can identify too much of the background. I couldn't immediately resolve this problem due to the layout of my house and buddha's dimensions. My subject is a stone sculpture of a buddha about 60 cm tall and weighing about 50 kilos. The widest aperture I could achieve with my lens was 3,5. Thus, I couldn't move the subject or background to an optimal distance (my husband wasn't home this week) and still have a natural light source on my model.

Photo #2 It was now about an hour later at dusk and there was very little light coming in through the window. That resolved the background problem, however now his face is rather dark.

I went to bed and decided to try again with the morning light.

Bokeh buddha in the morning

Bokeh buddha in the morning

Rise and shine my buddha buddy. We are good friends now after spending hours with each other. He's a very patient model.

In photo #3 I find his face is too white compared to the black and gold of the background. What do you think? In daylight the stone has a yellow tone.

In between #2 and #3 I had read up some more about bokeh and applied what I learned. I could compensate for my less than optimal aperture by getting my camera very close to my subject. This wasn't the composition I had originally intended but the bokeh and the background worked out very well.

Bokeh Buddha morning

Bokeh Buddha morning

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There are 16 comments , add yours!
Björn Roose 2 months ago

#3 is my favorite. In the other photos it's too clear that it's actual lights. But, honestly, you have put a lot of effort in this subject smile

2 months ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 2 months ago

I too found it challenging to shoot for bokeh, my fav is #3!

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Lynn F Medley 2 months ago

Thanks Lynn also for sharing the pain smile

2 months ago Edited
Jennifer Raknerud 2 months ago

Beautiful bokeh Budah

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Jennifer Raknerud 2 months ago

Thank you!

2 months ago Edited
Laurie Madsen 2 months ago

I like all of them, but #2 and #3 stand out:
#2 because of the darkness and transitions to shadow on face and no extreme highlights
#3 because of subtle/soft shadows on face
Great series, and I hope you had FUN practicing!

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Laurie Madsen 2 months ago

Thank you Laurie for the very specific feedback on all photos! I really appreciate it. I did have fun trying out a new technique. When I'm alone I kinda wish I had someone to ask "am I doing this right?" This blog is a great place to get the answer, thanks for that!

2 months ago Edited
Russell Smith 2 months ago

Of the series you posted #3 is my personal favorite. I would disagree that the face is too white but part of that is subjective . I say this because there is a nice gradient of light to shadow area on the face. My daughter has some "fairy" lights that she had gotten for Christmas and I want to play with them one day to see what I can do with them in a photograph. Oh yea, If you run into a lack of light like what happened in #2 do not forget about lamps to create more light a way of using artificial light .

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Russell Smith 2 months ago

Thank you for taking the time for detailed feedback. On #2 I wondered if I should add artificial light but was afraid it would expose the background too much. I really need to invest in indoor photography lamps :-)

2 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 2 months ago

Not a big fan of X mass lights as bokeh. Try it with something in the background and play with it.  you can choose how much you blur it.You also can use it in the front if you want it is the same method,just another focuspoint. www.photoblog.com/peterphotowalks/2019/03/08/depth-of/. Good first try,like #3 the most.

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Berckmans Peter 2 months ago

Thank you Peter, especially for the honest comment about Xmas light as a bokeh maker. It's kinda the "safe bet" for beginners, kinda like baking a cake from a cake mix instead of from "scratch" you're sure to get a decent result. Obviously it takes more practice and skill to achieve it without resorting to that method.
I looked at your blog, very interesting that you have a collection of painted buddhas!!

2 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter Replied to Lee Santiva 2 months ago

They are not a collection, they are a part of the family. My wife is Budhist and her father was a monk in Thailand. Bokeh wise ,just play with your lens it will come. It helps if you have live view

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Berckmans Peter 2 months ago

Sorry, then I misunderstood my apologies

2 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter Replied to Lee Santiva 2 months ago

No problem,no apologies needed

2 months ago Edited
Jolien Dekens 2 months ago

Nice post! I have never tried to use Christmas lights as a background so I'm afraid I can't give you any useful tips.
But my favorite is #3. I really like the composition and the way the lights in the background look :)

2 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Jolien Dekens 2 months ago

Thank you for commenting and for the feedback, I really appreciate it, also from others who had never done it before.

2 months ago Edited
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