Portraiture, #3 weird reasons why bokeh rocks


I prefer bokeh that is generated by lens that are in the focal length of 28,40-50,90. Never been a fan of zoom lens that goes over 90. The reason is simply because of the wonderful portraiture that i can do given a limited space and ambient light. Bokeh are only possible in such scenario if you have a very fast lens and we are talking about 1.4 here as the minimum.

In order to make this article real simple, let’s not jump into the argument that bokeh and the blurring of background are two different things. I know they are, but we often means the whole package of how the bg are blurred + bokeh characterictics. So when i say bokeh here, i am referring to that package.

So as promised, here are 3 reasons why bokeh makes all the differences.


#1 Because the background is just awesome…bad

Except for studios and rare paths where you won’t find picnickers and tourists flocking to it, more often than not, the backgound is just plain noisy, ugly and distracting. Yeah thats a common reason, but the weird reason would be because bokeh can massage a bad background into a good one.

Background objects tends to blur and blend together into some form of abstract cream. These blurring effect and the bokeh of how the highlight/contrast are generated, allows your picture gain more “attention”.


#2 Bokeh is actually optical photoshop

Our eyes blur out the background of an object by doubling the picture because we have two (2) eyes. That means there is actually nothing natural at all in bokeh because thats not how we actually de-focus stuffs. But the camera having only mono vision and due to the way light comes in and distance/focal length comes into play, bokeh is created.

In short, bokeh actually creates a background for you pretty much like an organic backdrop. That is priceless in art value…because you will spend 10*124+24848 hours to get the same effect by photoshoping it yourself and it would still look fake.


#3 Bokeh forces you to learn to be a better photographer

You heard the saying before “f8 and be there”. If you want bokeh, you better “f1.4, very quickly take out your camera and shoot, now that background, u sure that will make a nice bokeh?”
Well first of all you will end up buying expensive lens because bokeh is also related to how big your aperture is, and the bigger aperture you have, the more expensive it is. Once you paid for such a lens, my, you would use it to leverage on its ability to shoot in low light and subject separation.

Truth be told though, you will need to learn to see and imagine how the bg will be..in bokeh. So while some folks thinks that bokeh is a cheap trick to get good pictures, its not. Like everything else in life, it only gets better as u train in it and practice.

The same can be said of trying to do portraiture on small aperture and large dof. It forces you to see how the background would affect your image and both are true.

Enjoy the remainder of the images below and they are all shot at 1.4, indoor, handheld.





Pavillion {Street photography}

Promoter of Agatha
Promoter of Agatha

It started as a beautiful afternoon as i walked outside Pavillion. Its a high end shopping mall in the Bukit Bintang area in Kuala Lumpur, arguably one of the safest place to do your street photography. First person that i took is this lovely caucasian model hired to stand outside the hot sun, I could see that she is sweating from the heat but the job has to go on.

All images are taken with the CCD Nikon and 58mm 1.4. Its been three weeks now with this camera and its a balance between film and cmos to me. Less gears, more photos, its like a mantra that i keep telling myself.

Happy all the way
Happy all the way

Next is this happy girl chatting away on her phone while walking. Actually she has been chatting and walking like at least two(2) round and still looks happy. Whatever she is smoking, i need some.

Korean pop star
Korean pop star

Some friends that looked like korean began to pose outside the mall entrance. I took the opportunity to snap one of this shot when the one with the black dress posed. The sky is turning dark at this point and my iphone is running out of batteries. I needed a break and walked across to the Leica boutique inside Star Hill.

Miko of Leica
Miko of Leica

This girl is just 19 years old. She is kind enough to borrow me a charger to resurrect my iphone while i chatted with her. I am easily intrigue with people’s life stories and decisions and i think i spent one(1) hour there listening to her. Bought myself a LFI (leica) magazine that is from April 2014 because of one of the article on Fukushima.


In this picture only the little girl noticed that i was aiming the camera at them. Its true that DSLR ain’t so discreet when doing street and i been doing street using a ridiculous 58mm which is converted to 87mm since i am using 1.5 crop factor APSC. I do miss having a real 28mm around, but shooting at this portrait focal length forces me to get use to it. I am like about 7-8 meters away.

The Lost
The Lost

I saw this uncle when i first reached Pavillion and after i went to the leica boutique and met Miko and came back out to shoot, i saw this same person walking around, with the same visage and expression. In someways, i felt pity but i don’t know the reason, so i just took a photo of him walking past me.

You can't stop fashion
You can’t stop fashion

This is must be the most fashionable muslim lady i saw today. interesting matches of clothing.

Friends forever
Friends forever

When it rained, i quickly went to a shelter in front of Pavillion and noticed many people crossing over.

i can't believed he asked me to run in the rain
i can’t believed he asked me to run in the rain

Hope you enjoyed these images. I know i have not been doing as much model’s portraiture lately and its not because i have lost interest, but photography is my main sports nowadays and walking around is the only real exercise i get. I do notice that i do street like i do portraits. If you are wondering why majority of my shots are females, its because that’s just how my photography eye is trained on, portraiture on models.

An Iranian portrait

Minolta Rokkor 58 f2.0

Ali works for a company that i know of. Like many other Iranians in residing in my country, they just love Malaysia.
The company managed to get Ali a working visa and a contractual job. Although i would reckon that the pay here is not as one would get in the USA or Australia, the lifestyle here is pretty accommodating for Iranians.

For the local companies here that offers I.T services and development, often these Iranians are like a gem of a finding. They are hardworking, speaks english well and talented towards technical stuffs. Compared to the locals here which are facing more and more financial uncertainty due to ever rising of housing cost and fuel subsidies removal, its often futile to get a local staff for I.T that would stay with the company even for 2 years.

I saw Ali asking one of his friend to take a portrait for him and since i have my A7r with the 58 rokkor, i offered to take a shot for him. So we just moved to a corner and i uploaded this for him.

This image is straight from camera to ipad and just a tweak in Snapseed before uploading. I can’t wait to get all my 6 Minolta lens, clean them up and do some sharing sessions with some friends.

Minolta Rokkor as an alternative to 75 1.8 on m43

58mm f1.4

Its official that i moved on from my fav m43. My EP5 and its beautiful assortment of lens are now in the hands on a proud experienced owner who moved from Sony .

This is a classic ironic situation because i am moving from m43 to Sony FF. However it demonstrates that users who love mirrorless won’t have problem moving to any of the systems.

When i listed the gears for sale, the 75 mm 1.8 was the most sought after item in my list. In fact, i still have ppl messaging me for it and my listing can’t be removed.

58mm f1.4

Now, i have an idea and its a strong idea. Instead of buying 75 mm 1.8, why not try the Minolta 58mm 1.4 or even 1.7 on the m43? If you are in Malaysia, KL, and you can get an adapter for the m43, i welcome you to try it with me, i am dead curious in the results.

The 58 will be translated as 116mm at f1.4. Thats crazy good if you ask me, not only you don’t have to stand far from the subject, u are effectively standing nearly 30% nearer to the subject.

I must confess that if you see the prices in ebay is now jacked up i am possibly one of the culprit, well, i personally raked up 6 Rokkors, two are the 50s 1.4 and four are the 50s 1.7.
You might ask why the 1.7, cause there isn’t much 1.4 in good condition that is worth buying in my last check and when i tested at f2.0 it becomes a sweet spot sharp, so i would assume the 1.7 is an unsung hero at this point.

Transportation is expensive though, some costing even more than the Rokkors itself, so do keep this in mind if you r trying your luck on Ebay. I might take apart one of the Rokkors and do really crazy stuffs, such as replacing some of the parts with 3D printed aluminum parts or repainting it with metallic car paint. I reckon that since i have no problem taking it apart to clean and re-assembling it, might as well do some magic.

Let the poison begin!

* visit www.cocoa-dream.com for value asian model stocks photography set and freelancer magazine.