Here's a modest suggestion for a self-assignment. If you have a "peeve pathology," as defined in the previous post...explore it. Embrace it. Work with it. Emphasize it and exaggerate it. See what you can do.
Hate noise? Find a really noisy camera and use it at its worst settings for a while. See what you can do with noise. Find the subjects that noise works with. Keep going until you take a flagrantly noisy picture you really honestly like.
Hate tilted horizons? Make yourself take a thousand pictures with tilted horizons. And not just a little off-kilter, but a lot. Really look at 'em, and see what works, what doesn't. Can you take a good picture with a tilted horizon?
Hate wide-angle distortion? Get a really wide lens that has tons of distortion and see what you can do with it. Play around. Sooner or later you'll take a picture that works.
Something always works.
You might not think that I could do that with "bad" bokeh, but my late friend Phil Davis actually had a picture he'd framed and hung on his wall that was mainly notable for spectacularly bad ni-sen (double-line) bokeh. It was taken with some sort of ancient achromat. There was a church steeple in the distant background, and the ni-sen was so bad that the lens had actually rendered two images of the steeple, like the lens was cross-eyed. Phil liked it. It was an unusual effect, to say the least.
I wonder if peeve pathologies can be "cured" in this manner?
What I'd really have to do in the spirit of this suggestion would be to process a whole bunch of pictures going heavy on the saturation and vibrance sliders, giving everything that excessive, unsubtle, found-on-the-web dinosaur-planet color palette that I just hate. With lots of sickly yellow-greens, and day-glo reds never found in nature. The thought gives me a twinge of physical revulsion. I should try it. (I won't, but I should.)
Although, on second thought, maybe that wouldn't be in the proper spirit of the exercise, because I could always undo it all later!
Anyway, just a thought.
Question from Paul Logins: "Can 'good' or 'bad' bokeh be defined? Is there a majority consensus in the photography community or is it really in the eye of the beholder?"
Mike replies: Someday I'm going to do a visual post illustrating what I consider to be "good" bokeh, but for now that's going to have to wait.
However, as far as I'm concerned everything is in the eye of the beholder, not just bokeh, but certainly including bokeh. One of the nice things about photography as a pursuit/hobby is that we own our own practices as well as our own tastes...in the end, nobody can tell us what to do or what to like. People (like me) with strong opinions may make you more conscious of certain issues, technical and/or aesthetic, and people with long experience can help direct the development of your taste, either when you agree with them or—just as importantly—when you don't. And all of us are influenced by example, again either positively or (sometimes) negatively. But ultimately your concerns, your subject matter, what kind of "look" you aspire to, your aesthetic choices, your technical choices, how you react to your work or other peoples' work, all of it—are all ultimately up to you to decide.
And as far as this reply is concerned, you can take it or leave it. (Cue rimshot.)Featured Comment by Fabian Kruse: "I did that experiment with my Ricoh GRD2 some time ago. Hating its noise way too much, I decided to just walk with it at night, ISO maxed out, shooting long exposures, and thus getting the noisiest pictures possible. Two of them even made it to my photoblog, titled 'An Appreciation of Noise' (here [and above] and here). Nowadays, my noisophobia is nearly cured. While I don't always like it, I can live with it. And it doesn't look too bad in print after all…."