Bokeh for Beginners | Achieving Bokeh in Your Images

Yogesh Hande
Jul 22, 2018 · 4 min read

What is Bokeh ??

In photography, bokeh (/ˈboʊkeɪ/ BOH-kay — also sometimes pronounced as /ˈboʊkə/ BOH-kə,[1] Japanese: [boke]) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

Where does this weird name come from :

The term comes from the Japanese word boke (暈け or ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji (ボケ味), the “blur quality”. The Japanese term boke is also used in the sense of a mental haze or senility.[7] The term bokashi (暈かし) is related, meaning intentional blurring or gradation.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

Now before we get into how to achieve bokeh effect, we need to understand what is Depth of field !

Depth of field is basically area of the image which is in focus. In bokeh effect object close to the camera will be in focus and rest of the scene appears blur. Very similar to how nearsighted person will see. If someone is nearsighted, then they are able to see things relatively close to eyes clear and rest appears blur !

When only the subject is in focus its called as shallow depth of field, when everything in the image appears clear or in focus then its called deep depth of field.

Here we want to aim for shallow depth of field. Ideally you will need a fast prime lens with wide aperture. But if you don’t have a prime lens, you can still achieve similar results by increasing the distance between subject and the background that you want to blur.

Aperture priority mode can be used to keep the aperture wide open.

Lets look at some examples :

Here you can see that the subject is in focus and the lights in the background are blurred, giving us aesthetically soothing bokeh effect ! This picture was clicked on a non prime lens by manipulating the distance between the subject and the background lights. Lets checkout some more examples :

shot using prime lens(f/2.8) with canon 80D
To switch the lens from af to mf

Above pictures are clicked with prime lens at f/2.8 !

To see the lights blur, you can adjust the focus when clicking the photo. To do that you will have to change the lens focus setting from auto to manual (AF -> MF) as shown on left.

Once the lens is in manual focus mode you can use the focus ring to focus only on your subject, and leave the background blurry.

You can also click bokeh effects using smartphone like iphone 7+. You can use the portrait mode. Portrait mode uses the phone’s dual cameras and Apple’s software to mimic the quality you would get from a DSLR camera. Following images were clicked using iphone7+ portrait mode !

Apple really did a good job with the portrait mode ! Obviously portrait mode is not the way to go in the low light situations.

this was shot using iphone8+ portrait mode !

In summary to achieve bokeh effect you will need wide aperture and manual focus (Adjust it so subject is in focus) ! Hope this article helps beginner photographers to get better at Bokeh photography !

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