One View with Two Different Takes: In-focus and Out-of-focus Cityscapes with Bokeh Lights

One View with Two Different Takes: In-focus and Out-of-focus Cityscapes with Bokeh Lights

A few months ago, I published a post titled Photographing Out-of-focus Blue Hour Cityscapes with Bokeh Lights, and I’m back here with more of those fascinating out-of-focus photos PLUS in-focus photos photographed together.

If you’re a regular visitor of my Tumblr , you may be aware that I’ve been hooked on out-of-focus cityscapes with bokeh lights lately. I’ve established a sort of routine, firstly shooting an in-focus cityscape with a few minutes of long exposure, and then switching to manual focus and taking out-of-focus photos with bokeh lights until the deep blue hue in the sky is gone. This way, I can enjoy shooting two completely different-looking photos of the same view at every blue hour photography outing!

Here are a few in-focus and out-of-focus photos (or you could say “before and after” photos) from my favourite places.

Singapore Skyline from Esplanade

Singapore Skyline from Esplanade
Singapore Skyline from Esplanade

First photo: 18mm, f/11, 162 seconds (with 6 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 7 minutes before the end of dusk.
Second photo: 20mm, f/3.5, 13 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 1 minute after the end of dusk.

Singapore Skyline from Benjamin Sheares Bridge

Singapore Skyline from Benjamin Sheares Bridge
Singapore Skyline from Benjamin Sheares Bridge

First photo: 28mm, f/11, 25 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 4 minutes before the end of dusk.
Second photo: 28mm, f/4.5, 6 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot at the end of dusk.

Singapore Skyline from Esplanade

Singapore Skyline from Esplanade
Singapore Skyline from Esplanade

First photo: 18mm, f/11, 194 seconds (with 6 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 8 minutes before the end of dusk.
Second photo: 18mm, f/3.5, 10 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 1 minute after the end of dusk.

Singapore Skyline from Marina Barrage

Singapore Skyline from Marina Barrage
Singapore Skyline from Marina Barrage

First photo: 20mm, f/9, 30 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 1 minute before the end of dusk.
Second photo: 20mm, f/3.8, 13 seconds (with 3 stop ND filter attached), ISO 100, shot 5 minutes after the end of dusk.

Using Around f/4 to Keep the Skyline Identifiable

You might be thinking that you need a fast lens (i.e. a lens that is capable of opening up to e.g. f/1.8 or f/1.4, etc. that portrait photographers typically use) in order to capture these pleasing bokeh effects, but these photos are all shot with my trusty Nikon 18-35mm (f/3.5-4.5) , hardly a lens that is considered fast.

In fact, a wider aperture like f/1.8 or f/1.4 creates bokeh orbs that are a little too big and blurs the image to the extent that you no longer recognize the place that is shot. Personally, I like to use somewhere around f/4 so that bokeh orbs don’t go too big, and the shape of the skyline remains identifiable for those who are familiar with the place!

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