You've probably heard about "Bokeh" and even heard popular photographers talking how cool it is but you never seemed to understand what it is and how you can achieve the same effect on your photographs.
In this article, you will learn everything you ought to know about bokeh and how you can achieve this effect on your photographs. You will also learn tricks to getting the perfect bokeh effects.
What is Bokeh anyway?
Bokeh is a Japanese word that has been adopted internationally especially in the photography industry. You can translate bokeh as a blur. However, bokeh in photography refers to the quality of blur in the unfocused background. Bokeh also refers to how beautiful this out-of-focus background blur looks.
If you have been in photography industry for long or you have seen some beautiful images from popular photographers, you will notice an image that have something like a blur background while the subject is much clearer without being affected in anyway by the blur in the background, this is what bokeh is all about.
How Can You Achieve Your Own Bokeh?
Anybody serious about photographs can achieve a bokeh, you simply need to have patients and follow the steps we are going to recommend below.
One thing you should know is that bokeh comes from your lens and if you want to have bokeh in your photograph, you will need to use a fast lens - the faster the lens the better your bokeh will be.
To have a nice bokeh, you will need to get a fast lens with at least an f/2.8 aperture, anything lower than this will give you a bad bokeh. Alternatively, you will achieve better result when you use faster lenses with faster aperture such as f/2, f/8 or f/1.4. Professional photographers make use of very fast lens when they want to take a photograph that they want to have a bokeh inside.
Shooting for Bokeh
When shooting, you will need to shoot with your lens wide open and shoot in manual. There are many reasons why Manual shooting is ideal for getting the best bokeh. The most important of these reasons is that manual mode will give you the ability to choose both your shutter speed and the aperture. An alternative is to shoot in Flexible Program mode and then combine it with the widest possible shutter speed/aperture.
Note that you can still get a visible bokeh in your photograph when you don't own a fast lens by increasing the distance between the background and your subject. In this situation, you can be able to see a bokeh which are shot at smaller apertures like f/8 in your photographs.
When you want to increase your chances of having a visible bokeh in your images, you will need to widen the distance between your background and the subject you are shooting. One great way to do this is to reduce the distance the subject and the camera.
Note that you will have more out-of-focus if you have more shallow depth-of-field before shooting. Thus, the highlights hitting the background will show more visible bokeh.
Other tips to help you achieve a good bokeh
1. Choose Proper Lens
Like I mentioned above, you can achieve a good bokeh when you use fast lens, invest in a very fast lens. Note that the faster your lens the better your bokeh. It is interesting to know that you will have a better result if you use lens with curved aperture blades. This will help you to produce a more circular bokeh which is loved by everybody. Instead of apertures with octagonal blades, choose the one with more blades or have curved blades in order to achieve more circular-shaped light bursts in the bokeh.
2. Focus on what you want to have sharp
This is pretty obvious, but some beginners may get it confused. Pay more attention to the subject you want to look sharp in the image so that you don't get everything blurred.
3. Choose a Large Aperture
You will get a narrower depth of field when you choose a large aperture, and this will lead to more bokeh. In order to get the best results, use f/2.8, 1.8 and 1.4.
4. Your Main Subject Should Stay Far From the Background You Want to Blur.
The main subject that you want to look sharp should stay far from the background that you want to blur out. Additionally, you will also need to find the perfect angle from where you can take your shoot in order to get the best result.
Bokeh looks really beautiful and can add softness to a photograph that is brightly lit. You can use bokeh to separate your subject from the background. You can also use it to highlight your subject in your photograph.