Cheap bokeh

I had a thought provoking phone call from a friend of mine today who pointed me in the direction of Simon Wyndham’s Bokeh-Porn rant from a few months back.

In the post Simon talks about how shallow depth of field has become an obsession and the huge amounts of “test videos” that now populate vimeo. I read the article with mixed feelings. On the one hand I know I’ve enjoyed my fair share of bokeh and contributed a few of those videos, but even though I agree with a lot of what Simon says about the lack of narrative in these videos I still think people have a right to be creative in their own way.

I’ve been a bokeh addict for around three years now, and I haven’t touched a drop for around 24 hours!

I would love to shoot a narrative piece, but the reality is that so far I’ve either been too lazy or too busy to make the effort to organise such a project. So does that mean I should have refrained from shooting at all? I think not, to me these “test videos” were an important part of my progression. If you create such a video and are proud of it for whatever reason why shouldn’t you share it? After all, thats the beauty of the Internet for us as content makers.

The reason I’m a little bit torn over this whole subject though is that I can’t help feeling that Simon does have a good point regarding the DSLR revolution as it’s become known. The DSLR has resulted in a flood of shallow depth of field montage style videos, much like the kind of thing I’ve enjoyed making too. It seems that what was once a visually interesting and thought provoking project for me now looks like 1000 other videos on vimeo.

Simon is definitely wrong on one count though, I’ve seen numerous narrative films shot on DSLR that look gorgeous and deliver a fantastic story at the same time, he is right however that they are very much outnumbered by montage pieces. Hasn’t that always been the case though?

I’ve also been re-evaluting my 5D shots in comparison to some of the footage from my EX1 and I realise I’ve been drawn into this DSLR thing and lost sight somewhat of the other factors that make a good quality image. It’s worth taking a step back sometimes and looking at the bigger picture.

Am I going to stop shooting on the 5D? Lord no! I’m still addicted to bokeh! I am however starting to have a better idea of it’s limitations.

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3 Responses

  1. Robert Shaw says:

    Hi Paul, I read Simon’s ‘Bokeh Porn’ rant and have to say it sounds pretty pointless. The rather bitter sounding disregard he has for video DSLR users and there lack of narrative seems blinkered and hopelessly negative. Come on simon knock that chip of your shoulder.

    Did you see a drama series earlier this year called ‘Wallander’ staring Kenneth Branagh. If you didn’t its well worth checking out if you can, the cinematography is beautiful, it uses shallow depth of field in nearly every shot as a visual esthetic. I haven’t seen a TV series shot like this before. Made me wonder what camera/s they used.

    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Robert, it’s funny you mention Wallander as I’ve mentioned to other people how wonderful the photography is in it. It’s shot on the Red One I believe.

  2. laurent says:

    what about kit 35 on a EX1 ?
    you get the DOF while still using your camcorder benefits (rushes with some space for grading… )

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