Even before photography was invented, the great masters of fine art knew the value of “forcing our focus.”
Sometimes, negative space can be just as important as the positive. Maybe even more. A subtle, but nuanced background can highlight exactly what the artist wants to feature – instantly. By watching my husband produce some stunning shots of nature (Pics #1 and #2) I’ve come to learn about “BOKEH.” In Japanese, the word literally means “blur.” The tech can be better explained by the experts here.
To me, it’s a sensual photographic effect (rendered by the lens) that illustrates a basic principle of art: It is just as crucial to consider the quality of the background as the subject out front. Check out the paintings below by Rembrandt, Sargent, Klimt, and Magritte. Each oil showcases its subject (human form, nature or fantasy) by soft-focused support, created by blending, texture, and manipulation of paint.
Today’s “painters” (digital photographers) can set up their background-foreground relationship with a solid understanding of “depth of field.” And mastering “bokeh”becomes a sort of 21st century advanced painting technique that enriches that all-important interplay.