Bokeh photography: A step-by-step tutorial for beginners

Bokeh is the blurring effect that appears in out-of-focus areas of a photograph. This blur can either be pleasing to the eyes (known as “good” or “bad” Bokeh) or can be unappealing or confusing.

Photographers who want to achieve bokeh often use shallow focus to create images with a different depth of field, resulting in a blurred backdrop. The background blurring and its effects on the photo will determine if the bokeh is pleasing or not.

Generally, for bokeh in an image to be considered good, the subject must be separated from the background. An excellent example of bokeh would be a well-defined, distinct subject with a blurred, soft ground. A bad example of bokeh would be an image where the issue in the foreground and the background are slightly blurred and out of focus. Below is a tutorial that shows you how to create the bokeh look and some examples.

Bokeh is a technique in photography that blurs the background to create specific aesthetic effects. Based on the Japanese term boke-aji, meaning blur or haze and can be pronounced boke-uh (or okay), this practice focuses on blurring the light source. Photographer Mike Johnston named the style in an article published in a 1977 Photo Techniques Magazine.

  • Each lens has a specific number of diaphragm blades. They open and close as you take the photo. The number of blades will determine the shape of the bokeh.
  • The bokeh created by a lens with fewer blades is octagonal.
  • A lens with a more significant number of blades creates a rounded, smoother bokeh.
  • You can choose which one you like best, but when people refer to pleasing bokeh, they usually mean more round shapes. These have a generally more pleasing aesthetic.
  • You can create different bokeh shapes or purchase them by cutting out a form from dark paper and covering your lens.

Different lenses can produce bokeh. You can count the number of blades on a lens when shopping. Look for “diaphragm” as a feature. For rounder lenses, look for those with greater than eight blades.

What is the best aperture setting for Bokeh?

You’ll need to use a larger, faster aperture to get a better bokeh.

  • You can create a shallow depth of field when you use a large opening. This allows the camera to focus only on the subject and blur the background.
  • To get the best bokeh effect, set your aperture to the minimum. This is also called “maximum” aperture.
  • Set your camera in aperture-priority mode and the “F” number to the lowest possible.
  • You can rotate the front dial anticlockwise on a Nikon DSLR.
  • Turn the camera’s dial left until the “F” value is no lower.

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