Sharpness is a bourgeois concept?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by gzhuang, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Well, if there really is a hipster nouveau-bokeh movement afoot then it's probably a reaction to "them" staring at thousands of flat, boring, smartphone photos where everything is sharp including the fork on table 17 in the far corner. I don't blame them for wanting to inject a bit of magic into their pictures. But, I'm a bit upset I can't grow a bushy beard, wear too short stove-pipe trousers and sockless shoes without getting a slanty look these day. The bastards!
     
  2. blockend

    blockend Member

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    My comment from a digital thread on this forum yesterday: "Technically I think smart phone cameras will improve to the extent that camera photography becomes niche. I also believe the smart phone has lead to an equally obsessive reaction towards narrow focus photography ("bokeh"), as the only thing smart phones cannot deliver optically. It's sad that newcomers to photography equate film with bokeh, when full aperture work occupied a tiny proportion of image making."
     
  3. Chuckwade87

    Chuckwade87 Member

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    Again, read clearly, "I prefer", I don't really care, there are no other countries other than the Sponsored States of America. Hence "Evil American Imperalist"

    The true Enemy of the 'People', today is "the Patriarch" not the beougois.

    I dont' get caught up in these ideas in photography. A photo is either good or it isnt.
     
  4. Chuckwade87

    Chuckwade87 Member

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    bour·geoi·sie
    ˌbo͝orZHwäˈzē/
    noun
    1. the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes.
      • (in Marxist contexts) the capitalist class who own most of society's wealth and means of production.

    bour·geois
    bo͝orˈZHwä,ˈbo͝orZHwä/
    adjective
    adjective: bourgeois
    1. 1.
      of or characteristic of the middle class, typically with reference to its perceived materialistic values or conventional attitudes.
      "a rich, bored, bourgeois family"
      synonyms: middle-class, propertied; More
      conventional, conservative, conformist;
      provincial, suburban, small-town;
      informalwhite-bread
      "a bourgeois family"
      antonyms: proletarian, unconventional
      • (in Marxist contexts) upholding the interests of capitalism; not communist.
        "bourgeois society took for granted the sanctity of property"
        synonyms: capitalistic, materialistic, money-oriented, commercial
        "bourgeois decadence"
        antonyms: communist
    noun
    noun: bourgeois; plural noun: bourgeois
    1. 1.
      a bourgeois person.
      "a self-confessed and proud bourgeois"
      synonyms: member of the middle class, property owner
      "a proud bourgeois"
     
  5. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "Bourgois" is a socialist concept.
     
  6. wy2l

    wy2l Member

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    One can see a class struggle in everything...
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes, if one insists on viewing the world through the "class struggle" filter.
     
  8. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Like lenses with bokeh.
     
  9. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    "Bokeh as currently understood is about a sharp subject surrounded by out of focus areas, the more out of focus, the better."
    As you know this is not a correct definition of Bokeh, but is more of a simple very shallow Depth of Field. Nevertheless I agree this is a current definition for many, which will hopefully self correct once digital imagery gets over its growth pangs.
    But it is unfair to ask for a "serious artistic or commercial genre that was about sharpness combined with bokeh" before the words existed, much less expect a prior example of "a sliver of focus at 1.2 or 0.95".
    It is fair to look for antecedents and I think they exist. I would suggest that the serious artistic or commercial genre that was about sharpness combined with bokeh we are looking for is that of Peter Henry Emerson's differential combination of sharp subject and out of focus periphery. Julia Margaret Cameron's eclectic choice of focus was also in the sphere of what we are discussing. Indeed the emphasis of masses of light and dark and blurring of detail in Calotype photography, are themselves an expression of the discussion of sharpness and detail, softness and effect. Sharpness, focus, out of focus, Bokeh, and shallow focus as an end in itself are all part of the continuum of the fundamental dichotomy of photography.

    "Shallow focus as an end in itself is a new phenomenon. In the 1960s Japanese photographers of the Provoke school valorised 'are-bure-boke', translated as 'grainy/rough, blurry, out-of-focus', but that was a complete look. Now people seem to think a sliver of focus at 1.2 or 0.95 or whatever denotes artistry."

    I expect this is true in a narrow sense but ignores the larger picture. One could write a similar critique in 1870 about poor focus, in 1890 about no focus, in 1895 about selective focus, in 1910 about soft focus, in 1920 about sharp focus, in 1936 about complete focus, or 2115 about hyperfocus, or today about sliverfocus.
     
  10. blockend

    blockend Member

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    You clearly understand the issue, the problem and the possibilities. Most people do not. Generally speaking, 35mm photography was not associated with lack of focus, except as a consequence of other factors. Indeed it was predicated on the exploitation of sharpness and depth in a miniature photographic format. Large(r) format photography did have those concerns, especially portraiture, but this was usually from a wider pictorial aesthetic, of which subverting realism (Emerson, et al) was a key part. My gripe, if wry amusement can be considered a complaint, is the valorising of incremental sharpness against a wider palate of "bokeh" for novelty purposes alone, and the totemic nature it has accrued for the digital generation.

    Speaking purely from a modern definition, I have yet to see it break the bounds of novelty, which makes me suspect it has nowhere to go philosophically. I may be wrong, and someone will demonstrate a peerless body of work based on the representation characteristics of extremely wide aperture lenses, but so far such work is absent from the canon.

    Note, I'm not referring to the aesthetics of primitive cameras (box, toy, disposable) and the artistic potential in their drawing of light, but of highly corrected wide aperture lenses used in extremis.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  11. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    Dealing in absolute is poor practice, it can lead to disastrous results.
     
  12. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Unless I am completely mistaken, bokeh is not simply out of focus areas, such a those occasioned by shallow depth of field, but specifically out of focus highlights (and even more specifically their interplay with aperture shape), which can occur independently of shallow depth of field. I see shallow depth of field as an aesthetic and bokeh as a novelty, much like starbursts, which is why it and its discussion is so dreadfully boring.
     
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I must be pure-to-the-bone bourgoisie, I expect sharpness in any lens (regardless of vintage) or film. No sharpness = not doing intended job. I can make any sharp lens deliver a fuzzy wuzzy image, try to get a sharp image from any unsharp lens.
     
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  15. CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    Are you Absolutely sure about that.?
     
  16. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I don't know if he is, but I think all absolutists should be garrotted. :smile:
     
  17. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Blockend
    In point of fact I think you are spot on in your assessment. I think the aesthetic that best approximates what you are talking about is portraiture as seen in Chuck Closes's Daguerreotypes and in other close up tin plate/wet plate portraits (Victoria Wil). German-born American photographer Martin Schoeller's close up portraits are a hybrid (scanned negative I think) example.
    Still, in order to retain my belief system, I have concluded that Digital imaging is still searching for its defining characteristics and sliver focus, HDR and eye lacerating sharpness etc will work themselves out at some point.
     
  18. blockend

    blockend Member

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    For people who care about such things, the precise nature of out of focus highlights is a big deal. Doughnuts are out, as are "busy" blurring. I can see these things as well as the next chap, but beyond the recognition that they occur, I don't understand the fuss.

    Many years ago I got pleasantly side-tracked into de-focus, after discovering the drawing possibilities of long telephotos at minimum focus distance and wide aperture. Mostly 300mm lenses, sometimes with a x2 converter. I discovered that thrown far enough out of focus, objects and light sources re-solidify, gaining sharp outlines. This wasn't unfocused relative to focused objects (modern colloquial bokeh), but how the lens re-defines hugely out of focus contrast. 50 rolls of slide film later I'd discovered what I needed to know. I still like looking at the work, but it's more gallery installation than popular photography.
     
  19. Kodachromeguy

    Kodachromeguy Subscriber

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    Considering how berserk some of the digital generation go over bokeh, "so far such work is absent from the" Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and every other digital camera with which they claim to have mastered bokeh.:D
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
  20. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    I think you intended to reply to someone else's post : / I don't think it's bourgeois to expect at least a certain level of sharpness from any lens, however, you can't expect them to all be on equal ground with Pentax. :whistling:

    I see where we are heading. We can't be sure, that's why we need to keep our options open. :D
     
  21. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I take it that pinhole cameras are not to your liking.
     
  22. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Actually they are. Different animal entirely.
     
  23. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I don't know the context of HCB's observation. My guess is he was defending his use of a small camera, and the lack of sharpness that often ensues from not very fast film used on moving subjects, with a little sarcasm.
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Which highlights why this thread belongs in the "Ethics and Philosophy" sub-forum.
    I see the question of the roles of resolution, edge contrast and macro-contrast (the components of what we subjectively perceive as "sharpness") and tonality as being more of a continuum - all just parts of a whole.
    Choose a different tool, or a different setting on a tool that offers them, and change where your results fall on the continuum.
    I am often quite happy to use a lens at its widest or smallest aperture, even if the performance at those extremes doesn't give me the same resolution and contrast as using it at a middle setting. In fact, I am often looking for results that would be impeded by that sharpness - at least in every part of the image.
    An example where I wanted both "sharpness" and the lack of same:

    upload_2018-1-23_12-57-30.png
     
  25. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    That was my understanding as well, but it seems popular usage of the term bokeh has changed over time to include out of focus areas in general.

    Some lenses were criticized because their five bladed apertures produced pentagon shaped highlights. Oddly, I've admired so many photos with those pentagon highlights, that I actually prefer that look.
     
  26. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Mike Johnston might be accepted as the expert on what it is. "Bokeh, regardless of what you may have
    read on the web, merely refers to the subjective visual quality of the way lenses render out-of-depth-of-field objects in pictures."
    ""Bokeh" simply means blur, specifically out-of-focus blur (as opposed to the kinds caused by subject or camera movement). It includes, but is not limited to, out-of-focus highlights. Out-of-focus specular highlights are simply where aperture shape will show up most easily in pictures (i.e., spots of bright sky in out-of-focus foliage, for example). The reason people think it only refers to highlights, and that the shape of the aperture blades are the defining feature, is because that's the most obvious effect."
    http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2009/01/what-is-bokeh.html
    The association with highlights might be because of Harold Merklinger's article that focussed on highlights.
    http://www.trenholm.org/hmmerk/ATVB.pdf