Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member Latest Breaking News General Discussion The DU Lounge All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


(9,054 posts)
Tue Dec 13, 2022, 09:04 AM Dec 2022

The reason Bokeh is spelled with an "h" at the end

While reading a story about the myopic Hubble Telescope fiasco, the word "bokeh" struck me as a funny thing with it's unorthodox Romanized Japanese spelling, prompting me to ask out loud to an empty room:"Why is a Japanese word used to describe some out of focus portions of photography?"

After some digging, I was shocked to find the genesis story of the word "Bokeh" began in a May/June 1997 Photo Techniques magazine article, way less than 1 grandpa ago.


7 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
The reason Bokeh is spelled with an "h" at the end (Original Post) HAB911 Dec 2022 OP
Thank you, my dear HAB911! CaliforniaPeggy Dec 2022 #1
Had no idea this was such a "new" term. Nittersing Dec 2022 #2
I hate the term "bokeh." Grumpy Old Guy Dec 2022 #3
LOL, I suppose it does need a specific name HAB911 Dec 2022 #4
Perhaps I've been misinterpreting the term. Grumpy Old Guy Dec 2022 #5
Some good bird bokeh Grumpy Old Guy Dec 2022 #6
Very good indeed! HAB911 Dec 2022 #7


(150,295 posts)
1. Thank you, my dear HAB911!
Tue Dec 13, 2022, 12:43 PM
Dec 2022

Fascinating article. I've always accepted the term bokeh; hardly thought about it. That is now changed!

Grumpy Old Guy

(3,276 posts)
3. I hate the term "bokeh."
Thu Dec 15, 2022, 05:32 AM
Dec 2022

In the old days we just called it "shallow depth of field." There is no great mystery to it. The term bokeh just sounds pretentious to me. I think a lot of new photographers attach too much importance to it.


(9,054 posts)
4. LOL, I suppose it does need a specific name
Thu Dec 15, 2022, 08:11 AM
Dec 2022

don't discount the background! shallow depth of field is something different, simply what is in focus.

bokeh is how a particular lens handles points of out of focus light. my favorite is my mirror liens, 500mm and 1000mm. although considered a design flaw, it's a flaw worth using as in these first two. the third is a non mirror and you can see the difference.

Grumpy Old Guy

(3,276 posts)
5. Perhaps I've been misinterpreting the term.
Thu Dec 15, 2022, 12:03 PM
Dec 2022

The word "bokeh" became popular in the late nineties when I was taking a hiatus from photography. I was still working, and busy raising two kids then, and didn't have much time for anything else.

I am familiar with the circular light effects produced by mirror lenses. I didn't think a specific shape of halos was necessary for good bokeh. I just interpreted the term as a pleasing out of focus background.

I have a friend who is relatively new to photography. He recently asked me for advice about a family portrait he shot. He ruined it by poor subject placement. He had the family placed evenly along a plane perpendicular to the lens, but he placed one little girl slightly in front of the group. He shot it wide open in an effort to get good bokeh. Unfortunately, the girl was soft. I explained what happened, but unfortunately there was no way to fix it.

These days I often apply my background blur in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw.




(9,054 posts)
7. Very good indeed!
Thu Dec 15, 2022, 02:35 PM
Dec 2022

I just checked the common usage of the word

"the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image. Bokeh has also been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light". Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause very different bokeh effects.

Some lens designs blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce distracting or unpleasant blurring ("good" and "bad" bokeh, respectively). Photographers may deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions, accentuating their lens's bokeh."

Latest Discussions»Culture Forums»Photography»The reason Bokeh is spell...