Creative Collective 006: Blurry Bokeh Balls As Abstract Art

Bokeh Abstract – Farmington, UT – Fujifilm X-E4 – “Retro Gold” recipe

Bokeh is an often discussed aspect of picture quality. A lot of people use the term, but I don’t know how commonly it is understood. Bokeh is a misspelled Japanese word that means fuzziness. In photography, it is used to describe the out-of-focus portion of a photograph. Good bokeh simply means that the quality of the blurry part of an image is pleasant. Obviously what is “good” is subjective, as different people have different tastes. When there are bright points (such as lights) that are out-of-focus in a picture, the camera will render them as blurry orbs, which are sometimes called “bokeh orbs” or “bokeh balls” or “bokeh circles” (depending on who you ask). Sometimes when people discuss “bokeh” they’re specifically talking about these orbs and not the rest of the blurry part of the picture, even though technically all of it is bokeh, and not just the bokeh balls.

In this article we’re going to purposefully create blurry bokeh balls as abstract art. We’re going to do some things in the name of creativity that might seem photographically unusual or even outlandish.

Hold on tight, because things are about to get fuzzy!

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Making Color Pictures Using Acros, B&W Toning & Multiple Exposures


This is a combination of 8 B&W Exposures with different color toning applied to each.

The Fujifilm X100V, X-Pro3 and X-T4 cameras have a new tool for toning black-and-white pictures in-camera. I mentioned in my article about this new toning feature that there’s the potential to get creative with it, especially when combined with multiple exposure photography. I thought that it might be possible to create color pictures using the Acros film simulation, B&W toning and multiple exposures. This is certainly an unusual use of those tools! A sturdy tripod is a requirement for this experiment.

On my X100V, there are 1,368 possible colors to tone B&W pictures, but I concentrated on the more bold options. To make this work, the best results are found in the +/- 15-18 range. My camera has four multiple exposure options: Additive, Average, Bright and Dark. Additive and Average won’t work for this project because it muddies the colors. Bright and Dark will work, and they work similarly. For Bright, the camera compares the exposures and chooses only the brightest pixel at each location; for Dark, it chooses the darkest pixel. I found that one option typically works better than the other, depending on the scene. You could get creative and adjust the exposure of each image to control which colors are chosen; however, I didn’t do that for these pictures.

At first I tried using just three exposures: one with Toning set to WC -18 MG 0 (Blue), one set to WC +18 MG -18 (Red), and the other set to WC 0 MG +18 (Green). This worked alright, but there are not any in-between colors. The transitions from one color to the next are harsh. Still, I was able to create color pictures this way.

After a little experimenting, I decided that eight exposures worked better (you can combine up to nine). In addition to the Toning described in the previous paragraph, I added one with WC 0 MG -18 (Magenta), WC -18 MG -18 (Purple), WC -18 MG +18 (Teal), WC +18 MG +18 (Yellow), and WC +18 MG 0 (Orange-Red). This made the color transitions a little less harsh, but it’s still not ideal. The pictures look strange and nothing like “normal” color photographs. I also tried reducing some colors to as low as +/- 15 (instead of 18) in an attempt to control the outcome a little, but it’s hard to know what you’ll get until you’ve made all eight exposures.

The results remind me of some cross processing experiments that I did a number of years ago. You can get weird results, depending on the film and process. The toned B&W multiple exposures on my X100V loosely resemble the “worst” cross-processing results from those analog experiments years ago. This isn’t something that I’d want to do all of the time, but it was fun nonetheless. Most people will never try this, but a few of you will. I can see someone doing an abstract photography project using this technique.


I used three exposures for this picture.


Another three exposure picture.


This is an eight exposure image.


Another eight exposure picture.


I used eight exposures for this picture. 


Another eight exposure picture.


Eight exposures. The wind moved the grass between exposures.


This is another eight exposure image.

I never really thought that I’d be creating color images from black-and-white in-camera. The results aren’t especially great, so it’s not really a practical thing, more gee-whiz. I do believe, with practice and experimentation, it’s possible to get better results. I hope that you found this article interesting, and perhaps even a few of you were inspired to do your own experiments.

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