One of the more difficult tasks of digital photography, is making sure images have the same focusing characteristics you want after you press the shutter button and have the image stored on your computer. Your eyes tend to inject a little more or a little less "blur" into an image, and your peripheral vision is also calculated — all within a few milliseconds or less. When you then open up your images in your favorite editor at a later date, the images can sometimes look different than what you intended, and you scratch your head on just what the hek happened. If only you could change the DOF or the Bokeh of the image. Most amateur photographers did this with a few simple clicks in Photoshop using "G-Blur" (Gaussian Blur). Professional photographers shyed away from the method, explaining their quality prime lenses delivered a much more accurate representation. And they were most certainly correct. But if you don't own those high-quality and expensive primes from Canon or Nikon, how do you expect to create the same kind of Bokeh? Well, Alien Skin Software has a solution, and it will revolutionize the way you think about photography. It might even save you a few hundred pounds of glass to carry around.
by Alien Skin Software
Features: Simulate the OOF (Out-of-Focus) characteristics of dozens of different lenses, within one application. Create your own Bokeh. No need to have an arsenal of primes and 10 assistants to carry them around with you everywhere you go.
Official Website: http://www.alienskin.com
Current Price: Buy Direct From Alien Skin Software
The Bokeh Interface
- Accurate replication of real lenses
- Exclusive focus control
- Remove distracting backgrounds
- Insert bokeh highlights into photos
- Tilt-shift effects are now simple to do
- Vignettes done with ease
- Fake model photography is possible
Bokeh has the familiar Alien Skin interface, where adjustments are easy and intuitive. Settings, Bokeh, and Vignette are the three primary sections of the filter, and varying the settings in each create a highly customized effect.
Select From Expensive Primes
One of the obstacles which photographers face when buying a nice DSLR...is the fact lenses have to be purchased. And there is no one lens which does everything. Prime lenses are the treasure of a photographer's collection, but these primes can easily cost a grand or more per lens. This instantly puts most photographers at a disadvantage.
Alien Skin's Bokeh allows photographers to select the characteristics of many expensive primes without necessarily having to invest several thousands of dollars in lenses. If you take a look below, the example shows the bokeh from a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II lens. This lens sells for around $1,800.
Before & After
Here's another example. These are lovely Jelly Beans, and I want to eat them all. However, I want to concentrate on the orange Jelly Bean. Taking this image with a typical Point & Shoot digital camera, I have little options, as shown below in the original image.
But if I put this image in Bokeh, I can come up with something rather nice. The following image was modified by selecting the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 @ f/11 lens in Settings, and then adjusting a little in Bokeh.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED PLUS
Windows Users: At least a Pentium 4 with Windows XP
Apple Mac Users: At least a PowerPC G5 or Intel processor and Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
Monitor Requirements: A resolution of at least 1024 x 768
Alien Skin recommends an Intel Core 2 Duo PC with 2GB of RAM or better. I can't really disagree with them per se, because today's digital cameras typically have a rather large file size. However, I did install Bokeh on the DigitalDingus PC #1, and it performed just fine. So, if you do have an older machine, it will work, but if you have a lot of images to process, you'd probably be better with a quicker machine.
Since Bokeh is a plug-in, and is not offered as a stand-alone application, you will need one of the following:
Adobe Photoshop CS3* or later
Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0.1 or later (Macintosh)
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 or later (Windows)
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2
Adobe Fireworks CS4
*Alien Skin says CS3 or later is required, but I used it on Adobe PS CS2 with no problems.
Cons / Disadvantages
- Easy installation
- Accurate replication of lens bokeh
- Make your images STAND OUT for your audience
- Works on minimal PC machines
- Much better than Photoshop's Guassian Blur or other general blurring tools
- Bokeh is even better than a real lens, because YOU have control over where the blur is going to be applied
- A very inexpensive application when compared to what it costs for prime lenses
This is yet another fine software application from Alien Skin. Bokeh arrived just in time for digital photographers who don't have thousands of dollars loosely wadded in their back pockets. While Bokeh can't possibly replace expensive primes altogether, it's an inexpensive alternative.
It really doesn't get any more easy than this. I remember when I first took up digital photography with my Olympus E-10 (shelling out close to $2,000 at the time) in early 2001 and then eventually a Nikon D100, the discovery of the advantages of owning primes. At that time, creating your own bokeh was difficult and certainly far from accurate, as a person only had a few graphics editors which were not meant for such a task.
Today, Alien Skin has released a product which has undergone a rigorous testing process to assure accuracy of its emulation software within Bokeh, and have come up with something which should be a part of any serious digital photographer's software arsenal.