Dante Stella:

In the present, good composition can still be shot at f/16.

I may have actually uttered the word “bokehlicious” once. I’m not proud of it.

I agree with Dante, we need to back off of the wide aperture/fast lens thing a little.

I’m guilty of falling into the bokeh trap. I’ve noticed and have been concerned about it for a while now.

Before computers knew how to fake it (badly, see “Portrait Mode”), having a super fast lens was expensive and I thought using them suggested that “I’m Serious.”. Even if it did then, it doesn’t now. More often it’s a gimmicky attempt to turn a mundane subject into something interesting. It usually doesn’t.

Here’s one I took with the wonderful Zuiko 85mm f2.0 on an OM-2n…

Underside of basketball net (2015)
Zuiko 85mm f2.0…because I could.

It’s a boring subject, and the narrow DoF doesn’t make it interesting. I probably thought it did at the time.

Exceptions? I’d say many portraits lend themselves to “subject isolation”. Or, if you’re in a location where the background just sucks, then fine. And for the occasional “ooh neat!” shot, I say go for it, but treat it like candy…too much is bad for you.

As for me, I’m going to pay closer attention to my own tendencies and see if there are occasions to stop down some. It’s not fair when using film, because light is precious with 100 or even 400 ISO emulsions. I have to open up just to keep the shutter at a reasonable setting. What I mean is that I should try paying more attention to the composition and less to the cool effect shooting wide open might have.