Welcome to the fifteenth Chapter of Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide.
In the last Chapter 14: Tips For Long Exposure Photography we took an in depth look at top 10 tips to get a good quality professional looking Long Exposure photos. Similarly in this Chapter 15, we will take a look at tips and tricks to achieve a nice bokeh in your photos. This will be a short and simple article/chapter for you to understad better and also because it is meant for beginner photographer. So, let’s get started!
Before getting into our main topic let’s take a quick look at introduction to bokeh, what it is? and why do we use it? Then we will go to our main topic “How To Achieve A Nice Bokeh In Your Photos”.
Introduction To Bokeh In Photography
Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality.” Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.
Visit any photography website or forum and you’ll find plenty of folks debating the pleasing bokeh that their favorite fast lenses allow. Adjectives that describe bokeh include: smooth, incredible, superb, good, beautiful, sweet, silky, and excellent… but what exactly is it?
What Is Bokeh?
Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.
Bokeh typically refers to a deliberate blur in an image for creative purposes. It’s something you can achieve with any DSLR or Mirrorless cameras.
Why To Use Bokeh In Your Photos?
By blurring out few things or everything except the subject in your photos, the entire image looks visually pleasing. It can also really help draw viewers attention to the subject of your photograph. You can use Bokeh for creative and artistic looks.
Now, that you have an idea what bokeh is let’s get to our main topic:
Important Tips To Achieve A Beautiful Bokeh In Your Photos
Bokeh relates to the depth of field: the shallower your depth of field, the more blur. There are several variables, including the camera, scene, and lens, that can contribute to the character of bokeh, creating different looks.
Following are some important tips to achieve a beautiful bokeh in your photos:
1. Use The Widest Aperture Of Your Lens
First and the most important things which majorly effects the depth of field is your lens aperture. The aperture determines how much light passes through the lens. A larger aperture produces a shallower depth of field. To increase the amount of bokeh, set your camera to its widest aperture setting. That means the smallest f-number possible.
2. Consider Using Aperture Priority Mode
If you’re not comfortable working fully in manual, set the camera to Aperture Priority mode. You can still adjust the aperture for the depth of field, but the camera sets the shutter speed, so you don’t have to deal with that as well.
3. Use The Right Lens
Although bokeh is actually a characteristic of a photograph, the lens used determines the shape and size of the visible bokeh. Usually seen more in highlights, bokeh is affected by the shape of the diaphragm blades (the aperture) of the lens. A lens with more circular shaped blades will have rounder, softer orbs of out-of-focus highlights, whereas a lens with an aperture that is more hexagonal in shape will reflect that shape in the highlights.
All lenses can create some kind of bokeh, but the really nice bokeh is from prime lenses with large apertures, like f/1.4 and f/1.8. I recommend using fast prime lenses in order to achieve a beautiful bokeh.
Don’t worry if you don’t own a very fast lens. By increasing the distance between the background and your subject, you can see bokeh in images that are shot at smaller apertures like f/8.
Which makes me come to our next two tips:
4. Use Long Focal Length Lenses
Longer focal lengths produce a shallower depth of field. So, if you consider using prime lenses choose the one with the longer focal length like 85mm, 100mm or 135mm depending on the desired look and what you are capturing.
5. Consider Using Zoom Lenses
If you don’t want to carry around many prime lenses or you can’t afford to buy prime lens without breaking your bank consider using zoom lenses. As mentioned above, longer focal lengths produce a shallower depth of field, so if you’re using a zoom lens, you’ll need to zoom all the way in to increase the amount of bokeh you get. You’ll likely need to experiment a bit with it to achieve your ideal bokeh effect.
6. Get Close To Your Subject
Just like you need to zoom in with a zoom in, you might want to move closer to your subject to produce more effectively. The closer your lens is focused, the more out of focus the background becomes. Another trick you can do if you can’t move closer to the subject is to move the subject farther away from the background. The more distance between the subject and its background, the more blur you create.
Here is an important bonus tip for you:
7. Camera Doesn’t Matter
What I mean by that is, it doesn’t matter what type of camera you use you can still achieve a beautiful bokeh. Whether it is a high end professional camera, point and shoot camera or even a mobile phone. Below image is an example of that, I shot it on my Iphone 7 Plus with SKYVIK SIGNI X 20x Macro Lens Kit:
This is the end of Chapter 15: How To Achieve A Nice Bokeh In Your Photos of the Free Online Photography Course – The Ultimate Beginners Photography Guide. You can subscribe to The Black Light Studios website to stay tuned and get notifications on the upcoming chapters. In the mean time you can check my other posts on this website.
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