The Scattered, Flower-Petal Bokeh Experiment

Shadows and Light Filters over a Fallen Crepe. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photography. 8 x 10 inches.


Ok, I’ve got a minor disclaimer for this post: This was my first experiment with Bokeh… or, rather, my first experiment where I played around with the technique outside of my camera’s flower and portrait settings.  These images are not perfect, but they are documents of my photographic learning process (which I hope will continue to improve).

Bokeh is a photographic technique involving a clear, focused subject with a blurred background.  Now, remember, I’m an AMATEUR photographer… I’m gathering these words and ideas about bokeh from what I’ve read… and let’s just say, the source started with a W so please feel free to correct me if I am mistaken about any of this.  I have mainly seen bokeh utilized in photographic portraiture and images of flowers, but I read once in a blog  that if you zoom in on the subject right as you snap the shot, the effect is an incredible smeary blur.  This seemed like a fun technique to experiment and have fun with… for it inspires all kind of photographically abstract compositions.  I don’t feel as if I necessarily succeeded in achieving this effect with these compositions, but you will see how my technique has evolved in my next blog post.  Sorry I just told you that what you have to look forward to is not in this post… but at least there is something to look forward to! Ha.  Ok.  Where was I?

The Shrivels of Time. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

Eye Cannot Focus on these Blurry Myrtles. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

BOKEH!  Right… Bokeh!  I took these photographs on the same day, but at two different points in the day.  That is why the lighting looks dramatically different in these photographs.  Some were taken in the early morning, when the light was not bright enough to create incredible shadows.  The others were taken in the afternoon, when the sun’s rays were bright enough to render beautiful shadows upon these fallen flower petals.  We have a beautiful pink, Crepe Myrtle tree in our backyard that sits next to our outdoor umbrella.  The storm, which I posted about this week, caused a massive scattering of this tree’s flower petals; all around our yard and on top of our umbrella. I spotted a flurry of pink, petals resting on top of our umbrella, and thought it would make for some interesting compositions.  I stood on a chair, since I was not tall enough to take these photographs from the ground, but I still feel as if I wasn’t positioned high enough.  But this is what I managed to capture.  I am not sure if all of these photographs can be considered bokeh or not, but they were shot with that idea in mind.

The Silent Pod. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

In and Out of Pod Focus. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

I have heard that people either hate or love bokeh… and now I completely understand why.  But what frustrates some, actually delights me so I am all about havin’ me some bokeh fun. In these compositions, the eye is constantly being entertained as it struggles to focus and make sense of what it is observing.  I love this effect because it is creates a form of representation that has been abstracted… and I love that I can take something ordinary and search for a unique perspective via this tool.  I like the blurs in these photographs because, at least to me, I am seeing an image that is reflective of how I am really seeing… in other words, if I were just glancing at this umbrella and not taking its picture, my eye would slowly wander around the fabric and observe parts of the whole composition… for it is impossible for the eye to focus on all the scattered petals in detail at once.  My eye wandered from one prominent scattered clump to the next.  With that being said, these photographs show various viewpoints of a whole, entire composition… seen in blurry, zoomed-in and zoomed-out fragments.  These photographs might not be completely clean and clear, and that is what causes the frustration… but I find it makes these compositions ever more interesting.  I was able to orchestrate a multitude of compositionsbecause I could choose to focus on whichever clump of petals I desired.  I thought about posting only the one set of photographs at first, where the sun was really high up in the afternoon sky, but I chose to include both times of day, to vary up the photographic compositions.

The Closest Bloom. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

A Blurry Civilization of Wither. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

Please feel free to leave any and all feedback.  I greatly appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read my blog!  Please come back again and…


Dabbles of Light Slowly Steal Life from the Scattered. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

Collecting Crapes, but Not Their Shadows. Polly Nance. PhotoShop digital photograph. 8 x 10 inches.

19 thoughts on “The Scattered, Flower-Petal Bokeh Experiment

    • Your photos are fantastic! I think your blog was the third one I had come across, involving bokeh, and after reading three posts about it, I decided to play around with it. Your photographs are definitely better than mine… I need to play around with it more :). Thanks for the inspiration!

  1. Nice experiment, the bokeh are very beautiful. The first picture really amazing, I love it. After see and read this post, I wanna try to make bokeh experiment like this. Anyway thanks so much for sharing, it’s very interesting and useful.

  2. I love you blog and applauded your experimentation. I’ve been working in the creative art for 10 years and spent 7 years in art school before that I had never heard the term Bokeh before except in reference to that is what the Japanese call the out of focus. We always used the term deep or shallow depth of field. And more appropriately the “Bokeh” referred to a lens out of focus look. Different lens lend a different quality to out of focus areas. Try buying old lens and cheap lens or any lens with a wide aperture and take the same scene and look at the differences in the rendering of shapes. Good luck!!!

    Will Bossen –

    • I love the idea of buying old lenses… cheaper too! I’ve seen photographs with hexagon shapes that are pretty awesome. Thank you for your comment and for taking the time to read by little blog. Thank you for the encouragement and I think I am going to take your advice and find some old lenses. 🙂 I have no clue what I’m doing really… but that is the fun in it!

  3. Pingback: Reprise: Flower Petal Bokeh Experiment… Wilted « WatchingThePhotoReelsGoRoundAndRound…

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