Eastwood Lights’ Bokeh
Written and Photographed
By Jude Bautista
Over dinner I was flipping through channels and saw NEWS CAFÉ from the SOLAR News channel. It was an episode with Rey Langit, Jarius Bondoc and May Paner aka Juana Change. The topic was about media, the emerging social media, how one affects the other. Each week, the show has 3 journalists from different media like print and broadcast.
The show was able to deal with a very important topic and had great insights from both guests and hosts. The concept is vastly different from primetime news shows we’re blasted with on a daily basis. It gets to discuss issues on a deeper level and combines them with the emerging social media.
When the camera panned to host Mitzi Borromeo, I was both intrigued and captivated. Hers was a very refreshing voice and face that I had not seen before on TV. Although a cursory check on the web showed that she has extensively worked in broadcast. She was producer and host to STREET SMART in National Geographic and also works with the Mind Museum in Taguig.
Her facebook account, (at least I’m assuming its hers) has a VERY interesting cover photo. It has red, yellow lights in the darkness that are slightly defocused. And it reminded me of photos which I took very recently. I took a similar pic about a week ago at the Eastwood Mall.
As a photographer I was lucky enough to shoot the tree lighting ceremony at Eastwood. Touching news is that MEGAWORLD has donated millions of pesos to YOLANDA victims and rehabilitation of typhoon affected areas, which is the topic for another article. The lights and décor at Eastwood are perfect photographic subjects, especially for those into night shots. Anyone can go to Eastwood Mall’s Christmas tree and shoot the décor and lights, in fact there were quite a few families doing so when I was there.
The real reason for this blog entry is my own photos of defocused lights, the bokeh effect and how I achieved them. Bokeh is the creamy, defocused, subjects or shapes that result from extremely shallow depth of field. Others may interchange the term with Circles of Confusion, the point where out of focus areas become circular.
For me the photo has a graphic and textural quality, which is great as a background. They also make great shots themselves as abstract subjects, the challenge is being able to distort them enough to create those shapes and glowing lights. I’ve also seen similar photos or even film footage from the title shots of a big Hollywood production company. But one I can’t forget is from THE VOW, which stars Rachel McAdams, used it in their promo stills. Shooting the lights in Eastwood Mall with different lenses, would be able to show different effects and also the bokeh or defocused lights similar to THE VOW.
I started out with my Canon 15-85mm 3.5-5.6 IS Lens, on the wide end taking in the posts, lights, wires even the background. Signs can be clearly read such as THE CHOI PALACE Restaurant for example. This happens because on the wide end of the zoom it is able to take more of the scene, with a wider angle of view and has most if not the whole image IN focus or sharp. On the tele end I was able to shoot one of my favorite burger joints in the U.S. –JOHNNY ROCKETS’ neon sign, which is also in Eastwood mall.
Conventional wisdom would be that you need the opposite end, a long telephoto with a very shallow depth of field. Typically a 70-200mm at 2.8 would be ideal. IS or image stabilization would also be a big help since we’re shooting at night. This is a feature, which stabilizes movement within the lens for sharper pics. In fact I actually saw ANOTHER photographer shooting the lights with a long lens right there as I was shooting. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was trying to achieve bokeh in this way.
My own personal choice for this task is the Canon 50mm at 2.5 compact MACRO lens. The advantage is the extremely shallow depth of field that it has because it is able to close focus on subjects, inches away. Although the 2.5 aperture is wider than the 2.8, its less of a factor than the close focusing abilities of the macro. A 50mm at 1.8 for example would have very different results. In spite of having a more wide-open aperture of 1.8 bokeh would not be as ‘pleasing’ or distorted.
I found out that the extreme close focusing of Canon’s 50mm 2.5 Macro had a wider and more advantageous application in 2011. A bunch of us photojournalists welcomed Charice Pempengco in the airport at that time. And I chose to use the compact macro on her as head portraits as she was being interviewed by reporters. The result was very nice defocused areas while keeping important details of her face in focus, like her eyes.
So creating defocused areas with these lights would have been easier to achieve with the compact macro. Here I was able to shoot lights with the Christmas balls with one lens shifting from one focusing distance to the next showing the different effects:
Choosing lights, close together or all clumped up is a matter of preference. I suggest you experiment with different angles and distance until you achieve the effect that is pleasing to you. Other MACRO lenses such as the 100mm/2.8 could also work well.
This entry was posted on December 7, 2013 by jude bautista. It was filed under Art, Music, People, TV and was tagged with 15-85mm 3.5-5.6 IS Lens, a condominium, a trip to Singapore, Annie Quintos, Bedazzling Christmas Promo, burger joints, Canon, Canon 15-85mm 3.5-5.6 IS, Canon 50mm 2.5, Canon 550D, Cecile Bautista, Channing Tatum, Charice, Christine San Joaquin, Christmas, Compact Macro Lens, cover photo, cruise for 4, donated, Eastwood LeGrand, Eastwood Mall, Eastwood’s Bedazzzling Christmas sign, Eastwood’s tree lighting ceremony, facebook account, focal length, Image stabilization, ISO 200, ISO 400, Jarius Bondoc, Jay Marquez, Jericho Go, JOHNNY ROCKETS, journalists, Juana Change, Jude Bautista, Kevin L. Tan, Lourdes G Alfonso, May Paner, media, MEGAWORLD, Megaworld 1st VP Business Dev & Leasing, Megaworld 1st VP& Commercial Div. Head, Megaworld COO, Megaworld VP Mall Mgt., Mini Cooper, Mitzi Borromeo, Moy Ortiz, National Geographic, neon sign, NEWS CAFÉ, photography, Rachel McAdams, Rey Langit, social media, SOLAR News Channel, STREET SMART, Sweet Plantado, Taguig, tele, The Choi Palace, THE COMPANY, the Mind Museum, The Vow, Toddler, U.S., YOLANDA victims.