5 Most Basic things to get better understanding of Bokeh

Did you ever watch any movie/tv shows where during night-time people are standing near river/lake, talking – laughing – relaxing, and there you see some Twinkling – Hazy – Illuminated – Heavenly circles in the background? And wondered what that was ?

Twinkling - Hazy - Illuminated - Heavenly Bokeh
Twinkling – Hazy – Illuminated – Heavenly Bokeh !!!

Not sure if that happened to you but it’s a usual thing with me watching Korean Dramas (so this is second mention of Kdramas in my blog…and believe me I love Kdramas just as much I love Photography) and I always used to think how can they make such nice circle of lights not knowing the reality. Then finally when I found Bokeh I was so happy because I just solved one of the most difficult riddles of my life…

Bokeh is my most favorite creative work in Photography. I am crazy about Bokeh and just head over heels as how it can transform one normal image into a Dreamy one.

Dreamy Image cause Bokeh is there !!!
Dreamy Image cause of Bokeh !!!

And that made me curious to know more about it and how I can add it to my images. So I did my research and finally got deeper understanding of Bokeh.

So here I am presenting 5 simple steps how you can also know more about Bokeh:

1. What is Bokeh

How Bokeh looks in close up.

It’s a Japanese term meaning Blur or Haze

And in Photography this Blur is an artistic/creative quality of the out of focus background in the image. And that too when you shoot at widest apertures at faster shutter speeds. And shape of Bokeh is dependent on the shape of Aperture of the lens.

(Note: Aperture, Shutter Speed will be covered in future blogs)

2. Technical Description

As I mentioned above it’s created by Out Of Focus background at widest aperture. So here comes Depth of Field in picture.

In Depth of Field I explained how shallow DoF makes your in-focus subject sharp and background subject blurry.  And using widest aperture is just to create that shallow DoF for giving soft Bokeh in image.

Also that out of focus background subject should be illuminated too to give you nice blurry circles of light in back as your Bokeh.

3. How to create it

i. Place your subject, the one you’ll keep in focus, near (distance ~ 2 – 3 feet) your lens.

ii. Select the mode, either Manual or Av (Aperture Priority mode), as we will be experimenting DoF (I prefer using Av).

iii. Once mode selected set widest aperture that’s possible with your lens (I used 18-55 mm lens so aperture was f/2.8).

iv. If you have used Manual mode, select Tv (shutter speed) and ISO accordingly to have well exposed image.

v. Lastly focus on your subject and click, also while focusing you can keep an eye on the lights in background how they turn from tiny point to one blurry circle.

4. Precautions

There should be good enough distance between your front in-focus subject and that illuminated background. That’s required so that Bokeh will be smooth and soft.

But if the distance between In-focus and Out of focus subjects is not large then Bokeh circles will turn out to be sharp rather than soft. That will not give the final picture the desired dreamy effect.

Sharp Bokeh with background near to focused subject
Sharp Bokeh with background near to focused subject
Soft Bokeh where background far away from focused subject
Soft Bokeh where background far away from focused subject








5. Conclusion

Bokeh is one most satisfactory thing I have learnt so far in Photography and at the same time its easiest too. You have to take care of Aperture, Shutter speed and Distance between both the subjects and that’s all needed for one beautiful, smooth, soft and satisfactory Bokeh in the background.

Do you have a story as to how you find Bokeh and how you learn about it…if yes please do share in comments below.


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