Google and Facebook Use the iPhone’s Portrait Mode for Fun Effects

(Julio Ojeda-Zapata) #1

Originally published at:

Apple isn’t possessive of Portrait mode, the iPhone photography feature for creating shots with blurred backgrounds; it allows third parties to integrate the capability into their iOS apps. Google and Facebook are the latest to do it, each in their own way.

(info748) #2

You’re misusing the word ‘Bokeh’. It is not the actual out of focus effect when you have a shallow depth of field it is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced. Different lenses render the out of focus area in different ways and Bokeh is a ‘measure’ of this quality.

(Adam Engst) #3

Thanks for noting this—it’s been something we need to research further, and I’ve needed an excuse to dive in. A quick lookup of the word in Apple’s dictionary and Google’s dictionary agrees with you, defining bokeh as

the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.

(Both Apple’s dictionary and Google’s dictionary license their contents from from Oxford University Press, which is a good source.)

Similarly, Wikipedia says:

bokeh (/ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay ;[1]Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens.[2][3][4] Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”.

In general, Wikipedia isn’t itself a source, and one of the references in the definition points to the Dictionary of Photography and Digital Imaging. I don’t have a sense of how canonical that is.

However, Merriam-Webster defines bokeh as:

the blurred quality or effect seen in the out-of-focus portion of a photograph taken with a narrow depth of field

And American Heritage defines it as:

The effect of blurriness in the areas of an image that fall outside a photograph’s depth of field.

These last two are pretty clearly defining bokeh more the way Julio used it, rather than as a measure of the aesthetic quality of the blurriness.

So it may be that bokeh started out as a more strictly used word in the way you suggest but has subsequently become more loosely associated with the overall effect.