Photo Tip :: Bokeh!
Thursday, October 24, 2013 7 comments
Do you know what bokeh is? Bokeh is the word for those little blurry balls of goodness in the background of photos. It comes from the Japanese word for blur, boke. They can create the most beautiful effects in photographs, and it is one of the greatest sources of happiness for me (and other photographers - there are tons of Flickr groups dedicated to bokeh). Here's a few tips on how to achieve some great bokeh in your photos.
Lens & Aperture
Your lens matters a lot here, but that's not saying you cannot get some good bokeh on the kit lens. If you have the choice of lenses, a closer than normal view (more than 35mm) with a low f-stop value (2.8 or lower) is your best bet. Shooting with the kit lens? Set it to the distance with the lowest f-stop value you can (for Canon kit lenses, this is 18mm f/3.5). The above photo was taken with a kit lens set to 28mm at f/4. Pretty good bokeh for that!
Distance of Subject from Light
You'll want to be close to your subject and a little further from the light to get the best bokeh. I often set a stool about 1 foot from my Christmas tree to achieve the best bokeh.
Christmas lights, cafe lights, street lights, and any light that distributes small amounts of light across multiple places work the best for achieving bokeh. I have a string of Christmas lights on hand that I can lay across the background of a set up if need be. The photo above has bokeh achieved by nearby street lamps that had 4 bulbs in them.
Try masking your camera lens with a shape! Cover your entire lens with black paper and cut a hole in a shape in it. There are DIYs and premade kits - I highly recommend the kit. It works much easier, provides clear cut templates that give a crisp bokeh shape, and work the best. It holds up well too - I have had mine for over 3 years.
Hope that helps you figure out some fun effects! Be sure to ask questions in the comments!