Bokeh, a Japanese work meaning blur or haze. Wonderful stuff. Created by the lens optics primarily. Maximized by using a standard or telephoto lens with largest aperture (iris) possible, and set at that aperture. Short distance to the object, and long distance to what's behind the object matters too. The rose was taken with my lens with the largest aperture f1.4, and the red light photo below with a telephoto lens. For some reason some lens models manufactured, compared to other lenses with similar parameters, will create softer, creamier bokeh.... prized results. I bought the 50mm lens I used for the rose picture mostly for its bokeh reputation alone. I find colours seem to become more pastel too. Bright points of light in the photo become discs.
The whole in focus / out of focus characteristic of photographs (something we don't see with our eyes) is one of the modifiers (you could say distortions) in the photographic process that a good photographer knows how to use to their advantage. Selective overexposure or underexposure, graininess, changes in colour cast or saturation, flare, motion blur, perspective changes, these are just some of the distortions we now accept in photographs.
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