Getting beautiful bokeh adds a unique look to photos with creamy out-of focus highlights and gives your images that soft, buttery background that everyone is after! Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality.”
According to Wikipedia, “Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. However, differences in lenses and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that creates beautiful bokeh, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting.”
If you want to get the best bokeh effects, try starting out with these tips:
Tips for Beautiful Bokeh
Choose Your Weapon
A man is only as good as his weapon, so a photographer is only as good as their gear.
We’ve talked about it before – there is no one lens that will do an amazing job taking pictures of every scenario you might find yourself in. So choosing the best lens for what you will be photographing is going to make your job much easier.
Taking pictures of landscape? A wide-angle 35mm prime lens is probably your best bet.
Shooting people? (no pun intended) You can’t go wrong using the 85mm or 135mm prime portrait lens!
Details what you’re aiming for? The 100mm macro is your best friend!
Adjusting for Depth of Field
Once you’ve picked your poison, now it’s time to adjust your Aperture (or F-Stop) to create background bokeh. Remember that a higher F-Stop means more will be in focus, a lower F-Stop will mean less is in focus, so I would recommend trying to stick with an F-Stop that is 4.0 or lower.
Typically I stay between F/2.2 – F/3.2 when I’m photographing because I find that gives me enough of the subject in focus, while still keeping my background (or other distracting elements) soft and gives me that beautiful bokeh.
Don’t have a lens that goes down that low?! No problem!
Creating Beautiful Bokeh with Other Tricks
- Pull your subject away from the background – the further you can separate your subject away from the background, the softer the background will look when you focus on the subject.
Remember – The Greater the Distance Between Your Camera and Subject – the Softer the Background.
- Us a telephoto lens and zoom in all the way to get that background compression and achieve a shallower depth of field.
- Distance: get close to your subject – the closer you are, the softer the background will appear when you focus right on the subject.
- Lighting – viewers will tend to look at the brightest parts of an image first, so make sure that the best lit part of your photo is the subject’s face so that the viewer’s eye goes right to it!
So there you have it – tons of tips for creating beautiful bokeh in your images!