Experiments with 暈け

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Nikon D500 35mm F/1.8 ISO 800 1/1250s

As it’s the festive season, and inspired by a tutorial I read, I’ve spent this week messing around with bokeh.  Little did I know that the word is loaned from the Japanese 暈ける bokeru “to be faded, hazy or blurred”, which is fitting, as that’s what most of the photos came out as.

I began the week by using one of my teaching assistants, Monkey-chan, as my focal point and some flashing fairy lights flung across a table.  I cut three different-shaped bokeh masks from black sugar paper and attached them to both my 35mm prime and my 55-200mm zoom and started testing the bokeh out.  You don’t need to see those pictures as they’re what you’d expect for a first attempt at anything – unpublishable – but I got some more interesting shots in a bar near my house which has a spinning multi-coloured disco ball:

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In the images above, you can see the star-shaped mask I used for the disco ball, and a heart-shaped one on the fairy lights in my house.

I also tried out using people as focus points for the foreground but this ran into trouble in a few areas – subjects unwilling to tolerate my changing settings and masks in 3-degree weather;  a lack of light in the foreground (my more willing subjects were told to use the lights from their mobile phones to provide some foreground illumination); and not getting people in focus (although that may have had something to do with using manual focus after a couple of drinks…)

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Nikon D5000 35mm f/1.8 1/1600s ISO 3600 +2.0EV

So, my favourites so far are from our Christmas Day trip to the outdoor ice rink at Asasaka Sakas, where I got some nice blurry shots of the pink tree.

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Nikon D5000 35mm f/1.8 1/1600s ISO 3200

Coming up later this week, part one of my Epic Rock Poses series, in which I will be showing you some of my favourite pictures of Japanese musicians rocking out hard.

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