Bokeh is a Japanese word that refers to the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and it’s something that can be used in an artistic fashion. Unlike techniques such as lines and patterns, bokeh is produced by using the correct camera settings, so let’s take a look at how it’s done and when you might want to use it.
To produce this image a macro lens has been used to photograph a glass ball. the background has been blurred, and due to the curvature of the glass, parts of the image inside the ball are also in bokeh. This effect isolates the line of buddha statues in the photo.
Bokeh is produced when you use a lens with a wide aperture to produce a shallow depth of field, so the background (and sometimes the foreground) is thrown out of focus. When you are looking to incorporate bokeh in an image you will need to be shooting at an aperture of at least ƒ/4 (and ideally wider) to produce the required shallow depth of field—the wider the aperture, the more pronounced the bokeh effect. It is also usually important to get close to your subject, and to have a reasonable subject-to-background distance as well.
Meaning in the mist
This is a more abstract use of bokeh, as the background is blurred completely.
The most beautiful bokeh can be achieved when shooting toward a light source such as streetlighting or neon lights (but not the sun!), or light reflecting off a surface such as wet leaves or water. When the light is out-of-focus it can make attractive bokeh, and this can often be used as a background to a photograph.
If you want to be really creative you can use shaped bokeh. In this photo the bokeh has been made into a heart by cutting the intended bokeh shape out of a disc of card that is fitted to a hood in front of the lens.
Once you have a feel for making bokeh, you might want to consider trying shaped bokeh, which can be a lot of fun, and is simple to do. The first step is to make a ‘lens hood’ out of black card, and then decide what shape you’d like the bokeh to be. Cut this shape out of a circle of card and mount this in your lens hood—your bokeh will take on the appearance of your cut-out shape.
In Simple Scene Sensational Shot, Simon Bond shows you how to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. From altering your angles to trying out HDR and making the most of bad weather, any situation can be turned into a superb shooting opportunity.
Simple Scene Sensational Shot
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