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The Blur Quality

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

ボケ味 Bokeh-aji: “The Blur Quality. The aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image, caused by circles of confusion.

Often a photograph has the subject in focus with the background out of focus because the subject is the focus of the picture. The photographer is intentional with where they want the viewer to look.

Several years ago, I had a wonderful time playing with shallow depths of field with my Prime lens. I remember asking my husband to be in the shot, so I had someone to focus on, but my primary interest was creating those quality circles of blurred light behind him in the background. Yes, he was just a prop, most obliging.

I took photos of sensational Sakura and plum blossoms in Japan: the area of focus being on the branch laden full of fragrant flowers. The background melting into soft mauves and pinks indistinguishable of blossoms, but full of mysterious beauty.

Shooting the maple leaves in the Autumn resulted in a similar series of vibrant blurred shapes in the background of the area of focus: rich red, green, yellow, and orange leaves gloriously golden in the afternoon sun.

Spanish moss hanging on old oak trees and aged Cypress trees was a unique subject to shoot in Florida. The very shallow depth of field provided excellent blurred shapes in the background of the trees and sunbeams shining through foliage.

As I look back through my photos, I find myself pleasantly lost in those Bokeh-aji colors and shapes. My current fascination is with those mesmerizing ‘‘circles of confusion’’.

I cropped out all recognizable, focused subject matter. No more leaves and moss. No more blossoms, or people. And the result is color is heightened, pushed into a now vacant foreground, due to the abstraction of anything familiar.

Spaces and shapes can be explored more intentionally with the recognizable having been removed.

Uncertainty, while searching for the photograph’s reason.

Welcome to the symphony of visual delights, where the imagination can play.

Circles of confusion and intrigue.

Dappled softness and ambiguity.

My latest series: The Blur Quality

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