I'm working on the next set of pictures at the moment, which will be the results from Cambodia. I'm really happy with some of the results, but there are a good 600 shots to organize and cut down to something more manageable. As a result, I'm posting a few early, and in this case focusing on several macro shots I took outside one of the temples (Make them big for the full effect!).
This series evolved from a bet with a great friend of mine who is a Canon shooter (or was until a nasty run-in with some camera thieves in Manila). He was raving on and on about how great a certain lens of his was, and as a Nikon guy for about 10 years now, obviously something had to be done. For those not familiar with Canon vs. Nikon, it's a rivalry for the ages, and one that benefits the consumer as it pushes both firms to continue to improve their products in the DSLR space. The question then was who could produce the better bokeh on his firm's equipment. If you're not familiar with what bokeh actually is, check here
The quick answer is that it's the blurry and out of focus backgrounds that photographers love to use to isolate presumably more interesting foregrounds, usually due to a shallow depth of field (or the distance range that is in focus and sharp). What makes good or bad bokeh is pretty subjective, but like many things, people seem to know what they like when they see it, even if it's nearly impossible to quantify and difficult to describe. The general rule is the "softer and creamier" (gotta love tech terms like that!!!) the more people like it and the more impressive the result. Wide aperture lenses ( with low F-stops, such as F1.4 or F2.0), and professional quality glass usually seem to produce the best results, and trying for bokeh using your lens less than wide open (lowest Fstop possible) tends to result in harder bokeh, which can be interesting, but also unattractive depending on how things work out.
I fall firmly in the camp that there is no real right or wrong here, and basically one needs to use the equipment to obtain the desired effects, pseudo expert rules be dammed....in any case, here were my results taken from the informal contest. One can see in the shots with the butterflies, a bokeh result that is a bit harder and more noticeable, and then with the real macro shots of the flower and the ants that were making it a home, comes I think some fantastic results that fall firmly into the soft and buttery camp. I hope you enjoy these, and if I can convince the competition to send me his entries I'll post them here....