The arrival of ” bokeh ” was a little like having a cable TV truck turn up in the middle of the Simpson Desert. All very well, but it didn’t matter what colour it was painted because it had no real relevance.
We accepted ” bokeh ” because we read it and other people seemed to be using it and we didn’t want to be seen to be ignorant or out of fashion. Experts wanted more and better ” bokeh ” so it must be something good, eh? We weren’t sure whether it was something that attached to the tripod or the shutter release.
Turns out it is the translation of a Japanese word meaning the shakiness that one gets when they are ill or drunk. And this applies to lenses…The nearest English equivalent would be ” the DT’s “, but it doesn’t have quite the sophistication. ” Bokeh ” suggests delicate art – ” The DT’s ” suggests madness and vomit. And it is hard to sell people a new lens if they are looking around to avoid stepping in it.
Well, if one Japanese word is going to be so useful, I think we can go into Ushimoto Webster’s dictionary and collect a few more. Lens sales are slow and we need all the help we can get. Here’s:
A. ” Nasheh ” – the word that describes the point of an artistic composition when it all gets too hard and goes pear-shaped.
B. ” Ratteh ” – the next stage of ” nasheh” when the shape of the thing begins to resemble a pineapple and you start to eye the rough end of it with some alarm.
C. “Arteh ” – the Japanese word that describes the second year Photography student.
D. ” Stinkeh ” – the Japanese word that describes the general appearance and demeanour of a final-year Photography student as the prospect of going out and failing to get a job looms.
E. ” Sleazeh ” – The Japanese word that describes the editor of a skin magazine that tries to disguise itself as a lifestyle pinup publication. The lifestyle it purports to illustrate would generally result in 3-5 with no time off for good behaviour.
F. ” Hungreh ” – the Japanese word that describes the editor of a small pinup magazine that wants the photographers to pay him for putting their pictures in the magazine.
G. ” Deadleh ” – The Japanese word for exhibitions put on by camera clubs.
None of these words are subject to copyright, even in Osaka, so western photographers are free to use them wherever they please. As it is, the Japanese are forbidden by law to use them after two years and there is a considerable trade in selling them overseas as used concepts. You can pick one up for an attractive price compared to a new idea that you have to think for yourself, but be warned that when they break down there are no spare parts.