Achieve the Bokeh effect with kit lens (18–55mm)

How do you achieve the aesthetically beautiful background blur, if you only have a lens with a pretty low aperture range.

Let me show you!

The bokeh effect, is the fancy photographer word for “blur in the parts of the photo that is out of focus,” which is often used to make the subject of the picture pop. It is often used to make the background blurred. It gives the background a smooth and beautiful feel.

There are mainly four factors to achieving the bokeh effect (blur). Those are aperture, focal length, placement of the subject in relation to the background and lastly placement of the subject in relation to the camera. Let’s go through them.


Aperture and focal length are very commonly talked about, when people talk about the Bokeh effect. We’ll start with aperture.
Aperture is the amount of light that you let in through the lens. To achieve the Bokeh effect, you want the lowest number possible, so you let in as much light as possible.

It might sound confusing that the lower the aperture number, the more light you let in, but that’s why i’ve written a blogpost about just that. Read it here.

Let’s pull up two photos to show it.

These two photos are shot with two different aperture numbers. The left one is shot with the lowest aperture number and the right one is shot with higher aperture number.
Here you can see that the more light you let in, the more background blur you will achieve.
The left photo is shot with a lens that can take in more light then the kit lens i’m using in my kit lens challenge, so I/we have to do a little more work to achieve that amount of background blur.

So to achieve a fantastic Bokeh effect, we will have to work with other factors then.

Focal Length

Focal length, or zoom, as it is called in everyday english, makes a huge impact on the bokeh effect. I have pulled up two photos to show you. These two images are taken from the exact same distance to the forground leaf, but they have very different amounts of background blur.

That is because of the focal length / Amount I’ve zoomed in. The left image is zoomed all the way in (55mm), where the right one is zoomed all the way out (18mm).

Get Close

Aperture and focal length/zoom have a very big impact on the Bokeh effect, but we have two more factors.
Getting close to the subject enhances the Bokeh effect a bit. Check out the two photos under. Shot with the same focal length (55mm), but my position to the subject is different. You can see how the right image has a way more blurred out background. The light reflection from the sun is almost three times as big.

Far background

The further away the background is from the subject increases the amount of Bokeh (blur). Place your subject so the background is as far away as possible.
If you are working with subject and a background you can’t move, like with the fence in the photos above, you can move closer to the subject with the camera, which makes the background proportionally further away.

Especially when you are working with a lens like the kit lens, which can’t let so much light in, every minor factor that can help improve the Bokeh effect, is very useful.

Thanks for reading. Next time I will go indepth with aperture to really understand it. Leave a comment if you have questions, if you have more factors that can increase the Bokeh effect, and please like and share, if you found it helpfull.

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