Too much background blur in portraits?

3 months 3 weeks ago #674697 by Tim Chiang
I found a good blog post about a week ago on another site that focused (no pun intended) around the topic of going overboard with blurred backgrounds in portraits.  They had referenced a poorly executed video from Tony Northrup where he used a Canon 50mm f1.2 lens in his video and the point of focus was just his nose and eyes, leaving the background distractingly blurred.

I didn't comment then, but more I think about this, isn't that the artistic side of photography?  The purpose behind such lenses?  I don't care for that Northrup guy, so not intentionally going on his side, but seem to be thinking as creators, we create based on the vision we have.   As I see it, as long as the bulk of your face is in focus, game on right? 

Where do you stand on this topic?  


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3 months 3 weeks ago #674698 by BrokenCanon
There's a difference between background blur and background bokeh. I'd prefer the back ground bokeh. But more are saying bokeh is overrated.


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3 months 3 weeks ago #674699 by Tim Chiang

BrokenCanon wrote: There's a difference between background blur and background bokeh. I'd prefer the back ground bokeh. But more are saying bokeh is overrated.


Interesting, never considered that. I always categorized them as the same.  


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3 months 3 weeks ago #674701 by Nikon Shooter

Tim Chiang wrote: Where do you stand on this topic?  


Separation between subject and BG is most pleasing. I
don't buy into extreme anything and making a trend of
it… like if they had no other ways to explore their talents.

Light is free… capturing it is not!
This person is a posting maniac and deserves a #1 badge!Top Poster
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3 months 3 weeks ago #674723 by Piechura
I think the issue with the video you talk about is that it was a video rather than a photo, so the subject is constantly moving and the camera is constantly having to adjust the autofocus. That's distracting. But in a photo, this isn't necessarily the case.

In a studio situation where you have full control over the background and lighting, you might shoot at a higher f-stop to get sharper results, but outside the ability to make the background completely melt away can be handy when you're in front of something that isn't particularly attractive.


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3 months 3 weeks ago #674749 by icepics
I think the difference between blur and bokeh is the quality of the out of focus areas; a lower quality lens may have a choppy look to a blurred background at large apertures, so it would not be considered good quality bokeh.

It's not artistic just to blur a background. It may be effective depending on the scene/subject but that alone doesn't make something artistic.

Just blurring the background does not eliminate problem objects or areas. If there's a bright red car or sign back there, it will still be noticeable, just more as a red blob, but it's still there. To eliminate objects or part of a scene that are unappealing visually, or have nothing to do with the photo, it's necessary to move yourself and/or the subject, change the vantage point, to get a different background.

Sharon
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3 months 3 weeks ago #674755 by BrokenCanon
Some great answers here, but wanted to follow up with one more observation. It's not just the blur of bokeh, but the lens used to create this effect. Some lenses are more desirable with the bokeh than others. While other lenses tend to blur/distort the back ground. So I guess your question would depend on how much research you've done on a particular lens when wanting to use it for these effects. Also, one other thing, all devices have processors and these processors work at different speed very similar to your computer's processor speed. So if the processor is slow, the blur or the amount of image processing at a slower rate, the back ground and even foreground is going to have some distortion which could be viewed as blur instead of bokeh. Add this with an inferior lens, the image quality will suffer.


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3 months 3 weeks ago #674763 by Tim Chiang

BrokenCanon wrote: Some great answers here, but wanted to follow up with one more observation. It's not just the blur of bokeh, but the lens used to create this effect. Some lenses are more desirable with the bokeh than others. While other lenses tend to blur/distort the back ground. So I guess your question would depend on how much research you've done on a particular lens when wanting to use it for these effects. Also, one other thing, all devices have processors and these processors work at different speed very similar to your computer's processor speed. So if the processor is slow, the blur or the amount of image processing at a slower rate, the back ground and even foreground is going to have some distortion which could be viewed as blur instead of bokeh. Add this with an inferior lens, the image quality will suffer.



True, generally the higher priced lenses will have more aperture blades giving smoother bokeh.  


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