2009 Product Reviews



Alien Skin - Bokeh Plug-in

Jake Van Ness  



BlowUP2 BoxBokeh Logo

April, 2009

As an amateur photographer I was curious about the new software plugin from Alien Skin called Bokeh. Bokeh, according to Wikipedia, is derived from Japanese meaning "blurred or fuzzy" and is a photographic term referring to the appearance of point of light sources in and out-of-focus area of an image produced by a shallow depth of field. Usually this is produced by a camera lens, however Bokeh now allows you to edit photos already taken with a special plugin.

Bokeh is surprising simple to use and has a large variety of already programmed settings. I was really impressed by the samples of a photo taken with a specific Canon lens and then the Bokeh setting used on the same photo. It was very similar.

Bokeh does rely heavily on the person's selection skills. The better you are at selecting the object(s) you want to stay in focus the better your image will be. I was using a mouse to do my selections and I think that someone with a tablet would have had much better luck. However I can't complain about how my photos came out. They were processed well and nothing looked overly fake to me. I am not a professional photographer and I know there are some grumbles around the internet about how this plugin takes a bit away from the pro shots. I can't disagree with that really. This plugin seems to be geared more towards the person who is either shooting with a point and shoot camera or using a DSLR without all the fancy lenses. This is a great way for them to get a desired Bokeh after the shot is taken. They can get great a Bokeh very close to what a pro would get with an expensive lens but in no way a replacement for the skill involved in a pro shot.

The previewing ability of the plugin is wonderful. It allows you to see the image half processed and the other half as the original. This is great for tweaking it just the way you want it. I took a few of the "before" pictures from the press package and did my best to try to make them match their after pictures. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could do it and get some amazing looks.




Bird Bokeh

There are a few interesting Bokeh features that create hearts, stars and circles in the blurred background. This was well demonstrated on the photos samples below and I thought it was a fun effect to have available.

Hearts Bokeh

Couple Hearts

Stars Bokeh

Couple Stars

The other really cool ability with Bokeh is to remove distracting backgrounds. This is particularly important to Sports Photographers. As you can see in the sample photos below, it really changes the whole focus of the picture and makes the action "pop" that much more. The best part is it's fairly easy to do with good selection skills.


Pitcher Before


Pitcher Bokeh

I feel Bokeh is an excellent plugin for everyday and pro photographers. It's ability to add Bokeh, fix bad Bokeh and add fun Bokeh is impressive. The presets are well built based on some of the most popular lens and the ability to tweak settings is nice. For photos where you aren't looking to be specific about your selections there are even vignettes effects that I thought were pretty effective. There is no need to try to use the Photoshop blur effect if you have this plugin because it will do a superior job. Alien Skin has produced some excellent plugins in the past and Bokeh is no exception.


URL: http://www.alienskin.com/bokeh/index.aspx

Bokeh is a plug-in and will require one of the following host programs:

* Adobe Photoshop® CS3 or later
* Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0.1 or later on Mac
* Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 or later on Windows
* Adobe Fireworks® CS4
* Corel® Paint Shop Pro® Photo X2

System Requirements Bokeh requires the following:


* PowerPC G5 processor or Intel processor
* Mac OS X 10.4.11 or later
* A monitor with 1024x768 resolution or greater
* 1024 MB RAM


* Intel Pentium 4 processor (or compatible)
* Windows XP or later
* A monitor with 1024x768 resolution or greater
* 1024 MB RAM

Recommended System Requirements for Windows and Macintosh:

* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo
* RAM: 2 GB


US $199

Copyright (c) 2009, Jake Van Ness, Prepressology Graphic Design, All Rights Reserved

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