Bokeh (from the Japanese verb bokeru – “to blur”) is a photographic term for the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus area of an image, specifically for images with shallow depth of field, like portraits or still life.
Though its quality is highly subjective and its significance hotly debated, the basic idea is certain lenses have good bokeh. They create smooth, less-defined shapes in the out-of-focus areas which more smoothly blend in the background and, proponents say, create a more pleasing composition.
Some lenses have bad bokeh. Mirror lenses create a doughnut-shaped bokeh which is considered by some to be distracting and unpleasant. More on bokeh here.
I don’t claim to an expert on bokeh and I’m not even sure on which side I would fall in the great bokeh debate. But, in the hopes that I’m not trying too hard to force a metaphor here, I’ve really seen my life-bokeh coming together in the past few weeks.
“Life-bokeh?” you ask. Let me explain.
The out-of-focus areas of a photo are less important than the in-focus areas. This is the difference between subject and background.
We put the subject in focus because he or she or it is the purpose for making the photo and we want a clear, defined purpose for our audience to see.
But the background is not without importance. It can provide context or contrast or meaning or environment.
A well chosen background enhances the subject, the purpose, makes it stronger, more meaningful, more pleasing to the eye. A poorly-chosen background can weaken and hurt the subject. The insignificant bolsters the significant.
In the same way, I think the aesthetics in the smaller, less significant background areas of my life enhance and sweeten and brighten and boost my in-focus purpose areas.
I’m still working through the kinks in this metaphor, but I’ll give you an example. My new apartment has almost 50 percent more space than the old place. It’s given me room to breathe, to stretch out, to store my stuff where I can actually use it and enjoy it. It’s also given me a chance to clear out so much junk piling up at the old place. It’s a small, refreshing thing which has sweetened my life over the past few weeks.
It’s not the purpose, mind you. Alone, it would not suffice nor satisfy. But it helps facillitate the purposes – my connection with God, work, community, health, other pursuits. It’s a bit like feng shui for my soul. And this is just one small bokeh, I think.
And maybe, like photographic bokeh, life-bokeh has a lot to do with the lens through which you see things.
But right now, I’d say my life-bokeh is pretty good. How about yours?
Leave me a comment to let me know how you’re doing or what you think, or if this is just a little too vague and ambiguous (which it probably is). Thanks for reading.