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Bokeh Effect in Photography

September 16, 2018

If you are new to photography, then you would have probably learned about the concept known as ‘bokeh’ quite recently. Bokeh comes from the Japanese word 'boke' which means blur or haze or a blurry quality. Having the background slightly blurred, when shooting a live subject, can enhance your photograph. Photographers use shallow depth-of-field to make the subject of the photo stand out from the background.

 

So, what is good ‘bokeh’ effect? While the subject may be the main attraction of the photograph, bokeh determines just how much that subject stands out from the background. Good bokeh pleases our eyes and our opinion of the picture, and thus the background blur should appear soft and creamy. To increase the prospect of good bokeh in your pictures, increase the distance between your subject and the background. You can do this by lessening the distance between the camera and the subject. The shallower the depth-of-field (DOF), or further the background is, the more blur it will be. If you’re using a backlight at right angle and hitting the background, it will show more visible bokeh.

Different lenses render bokeh differently due to distinctive optical designs. Mostly, portrait and telephoto lenses with large maximum apertures produce better looking bokeh compared to cheaper consumer zoom or kit lenses. To accomplish good bokeh in a photograph, you need to use a fast lens - the faster, the better. You’ll want to use a lens with a minimum of f/2.8 aperture, with faster apertures of f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 being the ideal choice. Most photographers like to use fast prime lenses to achieve good visible bokeh in their photographs. The bottom line here is to know your lenses and learn how to take advantage of their strengths and avoid their weaknesses.

 

You’ll want to shoot with the lens wide open, therefore you’ll want to use a shooting mode of Manual or Aperture Priority. Manual provides you the flexibility to choose both your aperture and shutter speed, whereas Aperture Priority allows you to select the aperture or f/stop and the camera governs the appropriate shutter speed for the exposure. But, bokeh isn’t just about having the most excellent and costliest lenses. By picking a background with little light sources, getting up close to your subject and shooting wide open, you can possibly still get some decent bokeh out of your kit lens. Learning how to shoot good bokeh draws attention to the subject.

 

Achieving bokeh is way easier than what other people make it appear. Don’t worry too much concerning the technical aspects of bokeh effect. As long as you have got a camera that allows you to manage your DOF, then you can easily produce shots with fascinating backgrounds.

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