What is Bokeh
Wiki have a great description here : Lens Bokeh
“In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.
However, differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting.
Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas.
However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image.”
I have been looking for a way to test this feature of my lenses for a little time, then at Christmas we put up some little led lamps as below. So using two different lenses one a Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens and A Mamiya 45mm f2.8 lens I took some images of the lights, with the lens as out of focus as I could get them.
I think that the images below clearly show the effects that are described in the Wiki link, seeing clearly the effects of the number of aperture blades and their shape.
The Nikon lens as seven blade but they are not curved , the Mamiya lens blades are curved. You can clearly see that the shapes created are very different.
Lens Bokeh examples
Mamiya Sekor lens
Nikom AIS Lens
Square format in the landscape
The concept of Square format images in photography dates back to its beginnings.
The idea of using this format makes great sense when you think about it, a lens placed at the front of the camera produces a fully round image so the idea of drawing a square in the centre of this circle and using this square for image produced on an exposed sheet of film would appear to make the best use of the lens for the final image.
In film cameras a camera that produces a square image is usually referred to as a 6×6 or 12×12, these figures referring to the size of the exposed film area. I have used and owned different 6×6 film camera using one during my photography course and for sometime after.
These are the basics of square format film cameras , today most Digital cameras work in a 6×4 image format, meaning that one side of the final image is 1/3 bigger in its dimensions that the other. Some digital cameras however (Such as the Canon G1 x) offer format options, because a sensor unlike film uses pixels to measure its dimensions, square format is now called 1×1.
Working with a digital camera in Square format your most likely going to use the LCD screen on the back of the camera to frame your image, cameras with electronic viewfinders however will show you the same 1×1 view of your subject. A camera with an optical view finder most likely cannot show you the view you need.
If you camera cannot work in anything other that 6×4 format , one trick if you want to produce a square image is to get some scotch tape and use it to square off the live view image that you see on you LCD screen, this will at least let you frame you image for this format.
Square format in the landscape
Ok, so that’s a little bit about the history of this image format and how to produce images using it today, so what about the landscape images produced in Square format.
Yesterday, I took my Canon G1x out on a walk and set it up for a 1×1 image size, Personally I really like using this format.
Many Landscape photographers don’t and I fully understand why, the main reason is that you do not get the same width to your images, this width would appear to be a basic feature of producing a Landscape photo. The idea of removing 1/3 of the image width would appear to be to limiting and it can be, but not always.
Personally I feel the very benefits that come with wide landscape images can also be a problem, some images need to be restrained in their content to reduce distraction, a square format is a great solution.
I feel that with a square image you gain the exact same hight to your image and this lets you include tall features like poles and trees or an old house , yet you can more easily confine your image to just these main subjects.
I have done my best in the images below to try and explore this and show what I feel is the benefits to going square format with your camera.
Square format Gallery