What is Bokeh Photography

In the Japanese language this photography term memes blur or haze. Bokeh is the quality of a photograph that has a blurring effect to it.

pier at night

The book hair style is quite popular with many  photographers and it is a very lovely technique. There are number of debates ago about on how to best achieve this but before we get into that lets first break it down a little bit more.

Bokeh photography is specifically defined by being the soft out of focus effect in the background of an image with the subject kept in clear focus. Bokeh is often accomplished with the use of a fast camera lens and a wide aperture.

Therefore,  Bokeh is the pleasant aesthetic quality of an out-of-focus or blurry image. If you have ever spent time looking at Bokeh pictures you will likely agree that the definition is quite apt. Some of my favorite shots over the years have utilized Bokeh technique.

What’s  the best aperture for bokeh photography?

london street with bokeh effect

The most commonly utilized aperture for Bokeh photography is a lens that offers at least an f/2.8  aperture. Generally speaking, when utilizing Bokeh the faster your lens is the better your shots will be.

While Bokeh is technically referring to the blurring effect in the image itself, it is quite common to hear photographers refer to a lens as a Bokeh lens as well. You may often hear photographers talking about a bokeh lens but what they really mean is a lens that is fast enough to achieve bokeh style.

When talking about what constitutes a fast lens we are generally referring to the shape of the diaphragm blades of your lens. A lens that has a more circle-shaped set of blades is going to provide softer and more out of focused image highlights. And when you have a lens that has a more hexagonal aperture you’re going to have sharper highlights in your images. Therefore getting a lens with circular blades is going to help you achieve better quality in your Bokeh photography.

If you do not have a fast lens ideal for Bokeh images you can instead increase the distance between the subject and your background and this will create an effect similar to those of a faster lens.

As a matter of fact, it’s generally always going to be better to increase the distance between the background and your subject as this will create a more pronounced bokeh effect. another trick is to lower the distance between the subject and the camera itself. This will bring the subject into clear focus while leaving the background more hazy and blurry. In effect, the more shallow the depth of field the more out of focus the background will be.

What settings should you use?

When shooting Bokeh you will want to keep your lens wide open and you will be using a camera shooting mode of either priority aperture or the manual setting. A manual setting will give you the option to select your aperture and your shutter speed. If you opted instead for aperture priority you will choose what f-stop and the appropriate shutter speed for your shot.

What makes good subjects for Bokeh?

The most wonderful aspect of shooting bokeh photography is that you are only limited by your imagination. It is very popular to shoot portraits in bokeh, but do not feel that there are any limitations on the subjects that you can choose. Just like with any form of art, bokeh photography is a medium for you to express yourself and be adventurous. Please show me in the comments some of your bokeh photography and let your imagination run wild. 

For more photography guides and tips read these articles