Exploring the Edge of Creamy Macro Bokeh with Lily of the Nile
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desktop background image of lily of the nile (Zantedeschia aethiopica) in a river in Kyoto, Japan -- Lily of the Nile In Kyoto's own Shirakawa River Nile -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Lily of the Nile
In Kyoto's own Shirakawa River Nile
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Lately, I've really been enjoying the Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5's ultra-thin depth of field in a macro setting to “creamify” flowers and such, leaving only very specific areas in sharp focus, with the rest melting away into a creamy mix of softness. The Voiglander's bokeh is spectacular. I posted something along these lines the other day in “On The Road to Imabari”, and have several more examples from the last week that I'd like to post, but I'm afraid of overdoing it, so I'll parcel them out from time to time.

The king of this style of photography is Daniel Sroka who does it right with good equipment in a controlled studio environment, good technique, a good eye, and lots of patience. His stuff is amazing.

As for me, as I mentioned the other day in “An Amazing Day of Photography at Some Eastern-Kyoto Temples”, I snap a few pictures when I come across something that seems interesting, often using the carpet-bombing approach to shutter actuations to try to catch the right focus amidst the cacophony of movement due to wind and my own shaky posture.

It was all the more crazy the other day when trying to get these lilys, because they're at the edge of a river. I was lying on the road trying to lean far enough over to get the angle I wanted, always just at the verge of falling (knowing that I was fully at the mercy of a light shove from anyone in the passing crowd).

These lilys (zantedeschia aethiopica) are apparently perennial, because the same pair shows up each year... they've appeared on my blog before (here, here, and here), but the shot above is by far my favorite.

This time, I came across them while one was still unfolding, and it captivated my lens...

desktop background image of lily of the nile (Zantedeschia aethiopica) in a river in Kyoto, Japan -- Unfurl -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
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But yes, you can take things too far...

Huh? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/200 sec, f/2.5, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Huh?
Parting Shot I like to have a wide shot that establishes the scene, but I didn't get quite wide enough this time -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/11, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Parting Shot
I like to have a wide shot that establishes the scene, but I didn't get quite wide enough this time

All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

That’s some seriously shallow Dof! Lovely colours too!

— comment by Drew on April 12th, 2011 at 12:32am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Nothing blurs quite like the CV 125, not even the Leica R 100 Elmarit Makro APO. I have been shooting it about 6 months longer than you (I was one of the first to welcome you to the ‘club’) and I just think that it is equally fantastic as a portrait/short tele. The color fidelity of an APO lens is just sublime. And that CV is about as perfect a lens as I have ever encountered; no real flaws or defecits. I even have grown to like the square hood; has an old-time cinematographer look.

— comment by Ed on April 12th, 2011 at 12:57am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

For another exotic lens with beautiful bokeh you could try Nikon’s own PC-E Micro Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D. The shorter focal length and limit of 1:2 reprodution ratio won’t get you that thin a DOF, but the OOF areas are rendered really nice – and if you want to get more into focus tilt comes in really handy even at macro distances …

— comment by Andreas Weber on April 12th, 2011 at 1:41am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

Good images Jeffrey. But I think the flower is not Lily of the Nile. Lily of the Nile, at least where I live, is the Agapanthus. Here is link: Agapanthus. The image you have is most commonly called Calla Lilly. This is a website for this: Calla Lily.
I agree with @Adreas, the PC-E tilt/shift is a wonderful lens for this type of shot.

— comment by gary little on April 25th, 2011 at 12:28am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink
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