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Thursday, 12 February 2015


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I had started typing a comment that it failed the critical sharpness test, when it snapped in! Apparently I was seeing a partial progressive jpeg, or equivalent, not the full res. Was nearly 15 seconds I think before it went to the next level.

So, anybody who wants to complain that nothing in the photo is sharp -- wait a while! Because some of it is.

Maybe if it wasn't a cigarette…

Very cool indeed, and not just the bokeh, the linear patterns radiating from the cigarette tip are perfect. And yet - cigarettes are great visual subjects, interesting shapes and textures, and often smoke patterns (not so much here). But that interest for me is always tinged with the facts of addiction, cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and the completely immoral actions of big tobacco in lying about the medical evidence and manipulating nicotine content to enhance addiction.

looks like he's using a filter...

I won a rare Bronica PG 80mm f/3.5 (40mm in 35mm format) for my 6x7 GS-1 last week on Ebay.

[That's a very fine lens, as I recall. Beautiful bokeh, am I wrong? --Mike]

Why advertise cigarettes and encourage the drug addicts?

Does nothing for me, sorry

I like it! ISO 3200 has certainly come a long way!

I see this photo as a throwaway test shot, which, had I shot it, I would definitely have thrown away.
The shot would clearly suffice as an example if you trying to explain the concept of 'Bokeh' to a novice, but otherwise, why waste people's time?

Had that lens once, miss it.
Bokeh was a bit fickle and inconsistant, but complicated and if chased was obviouly the star of the show (very rich colors). I preferred it as a 65 on a crop frame. How can that be? Its not a recognised focal length!!

That's what makes horseraces ...

Not very cool bokeh to my eye. Interesting, as an effect, in an image designed to grab attention, but not appealing.

Great bokeh, to me, is where the OOF disks of highlights are bright in the center and get dimmer as they go out, to a soft, undefined ending, as opposed to a visible edge - Airy disks, in other words.

These, relatively even in brightness with hard edges are fairly typical of modern lens designs, especially fast ones and many/most zooms. You can also see unnatural hard edges in the face, nose, ear and line between light nose/mouth and shadowed cheek. Not bad, but noticeable in the context of all the other hard edges. The harsh bokeh of the lights behind him is pretty typical of a double Gauss based design (which this is) with a close focal plane with highlights in the background.

There are further examples in the PhotoZone review Bokeh section and I agree with the text.

This is not the worst. That's when they are reversed, with dark centers brightening out to bright, hard edges. Sometimes they will even become doughnuts, bright rings with black centers. Typical of the double Gauss design basis of essentially all fast, "normal" focal length lenses, this OM Zuiko 50/1.8 will do that, with the 'right' subject, as in the upper right corner here.

These comments re-enforce how wildly different people perceive the same stimulus. Phew. People smoke. Get over it. Great photo. Got me very excited to investigate 40mm lenses.
Similarly I read somewhere that Koudelka used a 25mm for his gypsy work. Made sense. At least intellectually. 24's seemed too wide and 28's not wide enough! Thanks for the tip!
( on another topic : feel free to edit this.... I often feel strong foregrounds are crucial in wide landscapes but you showed a landscape , shot at dusk or dawn) without a strong foreground EXCEPT for the snow went a deep purple/blue. I thought it a pure COLOR photo. Without the hue it wouldn't have worked but with it, it sung. Just thought it interesting. Have a good weekend. )

Slightly off topic ...

Jeff: Koudelka used a 25mm for his gypsy work. Made sense. At least intellectually. 24's seemed too wide and 28's not wide enough!

But that's not how Josef Koudelka arrived at a 25mm lens for the Gypsies and the Prague Spring photographs. His "look" including his choice of lens and negative film was constrained by what he could get hold of.

In Czechoslovakia Koudelka used a 1950s East German Pentacon Exakta IIa with a Zeiss Jena Flectogen 25mm lens. He also had 35mm and 50mm lenses (probably Pentacon lenses that came with the Exakta, they were the most common lens in the Warsaw Pact countries, but I've never seen them specified in detail) but clearly he liked the look of the one wide lens he had.

A Koudelka monograph describes how he got the lens:


Earlier, the Czechoslovakian critic and photographer Jiri Jenicek had made a great contribution to Josef's development as a photograph?, for it was he that helped chose the pictures for his first exhibition [...]. Jenicek ordered a 3.5-cm Zeiss [Jena] Flectogen lens from East Germany, and received a 25-mm instead. After the death of Jenicek [Koudelka] bought the lens from his widow. Josef subsequently used this lens for much of his work [in Czechoslovakia].

So Jenicek got the 25mm lens by accident but it seems Koudelka liked the look and he managed to buy it after Jenicek died. An interesting contingency: would Gypsies and Prague Spring have been shot with a 35mm lens if that hadn't happened? What difference would that have made?

Koudelka used cuts of unexposed ORWO high contrast black and white movie negative film from the end of exposed film rolls. Perhaps the ORWO NP7, an ISO 400 cinema film available in the 60s from the DDR. Film club photographers were using the stray bits of film they could get hold of. For example, see this Vaclav Havel image taken on NP7 also with a Flectogen 25mm lens taken by Pavel Vacha. I wonder if that was Jenicek's or Koudelka's lens?


During the Czech Spring in 1968 he'd load his two Exacta cameras, one with 25mm lens and the other with a 35mm lens, with the film in a darkroom without a 35mm film can (so he could load much more film too: perhaps 100 frames) then go out shoot, return to the darkroom to unload then reload the cameras and go out again. He shot about 5,000 images this way over 10 days.

Sometime constraints, along with a good eye and a bit of luck, can shape how one works.

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