Cold Start: Pre-Bokeh Bokeh

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Have you ever really looked at a DAF 44? I think they’re very attractive little cars, with an interesting grille-less face. It looks like a rear-engined car, but it’s not – the little 844cc air-cooled flat-twin is up front there. That’s ok, though: the belt-and-cone-type Variomatic CVT setup for the transmission gives the car all the weirdness it needs.

But I wanted to use this image today because of the background, which feature some blurry lights that have a very particular “bokeh” look about them, where a background blurs into discrete, bold, often colorful shapes. The word is of Japanese origin, meaning, basically “blurry,” and was first applied to photography in the 1990s. 

That means this is a pre-bokeh example of bokeh! What a magical world we live in, right?

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23 Responses

  1. My first car was a Volvo 66, which is basically a DAF 66 built by Volvo after Volvo bought the DAF-factory in Born. But because it was Volvo the 66 had to meet higher safety standards, which meant thicker bumpers, a safer steering wheel and such. So, the front was typically Volvo, but from the side it was still a DAF.. Loved that car; it coud do it’s maximum speed in reverse thanks to the CVT..

  2. I’ve been messing around with an old Nikon Reflex-Nikkor 500mm ƒ/8 I bought cheap. It’s a camera lens with mirrors like some telescopes (catadioptric). The bokeh (a word which didn’t exist in English when the lens was made, but it was made in Japan so we’re covered) is, well, quite ugly if not controlled properly. It makes blurry circles that can be literally nauseating. Happily, there are tricks to reduce or eliminate that.

    I’ve enjoyed playing with the 500 so much that I’ve got a Reflex-Nikkor 1000mm ƒ/11 on the way now. It cost twice as much as the 500, a fact which amused me.

  3. My Father came very late to the whole driving thing and never learned how to drive a car with a manual gearbox (In the UK this is rare, and your drivers license is for automatics only). In his early sixties he learned to drive in a DAF. When he died, thirty years later, he still drove…….a DAF!

    He had no idea how difficult it became to find him a replacement car, but over the years I have looked at more DAFs than is strictly healthy.

  4. This makes me wonder – years from now, what’ll we think of as the car ad graphic style of today?

    I fear it’ll be just photo realistic portrayal of people loading/unloading outdoor activity equipment into their SUV or construction supplies into their pickup.

    Car ads always telegraphed lifestyle of course, but seems like today, that’s all they do.

  5. Jason, There is a DAF museum in Einhoven, NL. You would love all the weirdness on display. Just don’t touch the stuff (especially engines). I was doing this and then an announcement would be made (in Dutch). I repeated my errant behavior several times, then suddenly “There is no touching the displays” came over the loudspeakers. Hey, it was fun!

    1. I love that museum. It might be the best single marque car museum in the world. So much fascinating stuff and really tells the story of the company. I guess I didn’t touch anything when I was there because I wasn’t admonished over loudspeakers. But, I would have loved to get in the little raincoat car at the entrance. That thing is so cool.

  6. Bokeh is a word that made me think, “where did that come from?” In the ’90s, I got into photography, and basically read all the photography books on the shelf at my local library and never saw the word, though I obviously understood the blur. Then the internet happened, and it was bokeh, bokeh, bokeh everything. I still hate the word.

  7. I can’t find it now but another image from this brochure features ghost luggage in many bright colors slowly floating in and out of the trunk where you think the engine should live. It’s a striking image. So much so that I printed it out and taped it above my work desk last year.

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