If you’re new to photography, you’ve probably learned about the concept called “bokeh” just recently. It is originally Japanese and applies to blur or blurred quality, and is a very familiar technique in photography. First, let’s understand the essential distinctions between soft focus and bokeh. There is a deliberate blurriness applied to the object of soft-focus imagery while the individual outlines are held in sharp focus, but in bokeh, it is only an aspect of the picture which is deliberately blurred. Also, bokeh often helps to highlight some light points in the image.
Why is bokeh appealing to most of the photographers?
Bokeh seems to appear outside the focal region in the areas of a photo. Because of this, a shallow depth of field given by a large open aperture is the most popular technique used to accomplish this.
Because of its visually pleasing characteristics, most photographers prefer bokeh. Not only does it provide a blurred background that draws attention to the subject, but it also produces images that look dreamy, eye-catching, and even ethereal.
To create an image with what is regarded as “nice” bokeh, the photographer or photobooth must first identify a subject that can be conveniently shot at near or short focal lengths.
Many photographers contend that bokeh is just about the quality of circular light reflections, and many others, agree that bokeh is about the performance of the whole out-of-focus region, not just reflections and highlights.
Two types of Bokeh- Good and Bad!
The lens makes bokeh, not the camera. Because of special optical features, various lenses make bokeh differently. Portrait or telephoto lenses with large maximum apertures usually produce more pleasant-looking bokeh than inexpensive zoom lenses for customers. E.g., the Nikon 85 mmf/1.4D lens produces extraordinarily beautiful bokeh, whereas the Nikon 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 G DX lens produces bad bokeh at the same focal length and aperture, mostly due to differences in both lenses’ optical design.
A great bokeh pleases our eyes and our object vision, so the ambient blur must look soft and “creamy,” with perfect circles of light and no hard edges.
How to get a Good Bokeh?
Bokeh depends on the lens type you have. Although lower-end consumer zoom lenses yield unnatural bokeh, fixed (prime) lenses and most advanced zoom lenses yield greater-looking bokeh with fast apertures. Would you know if there’s better bokeh in your lens? Consider this: concentrate on an object from a very close distance (as similar as the lens enables, holding the target in view), make sure that at least 5-6 inches behind it, there are no artifacts. Make sure you’re on the same floor as the artifact itself, so you don’t look down at it. Do not use a blank wall as your background – try to find a vibrant background with a few lights on it ideally.
The lowest aperture on most standard zoom lenses is usually f/3.5, although it can be between f/1.2 and f/2.8 on prime or specialist zoom lenses. Take a picture of your subject once the aperture is adjusted to the lowest value and take a look at your camera’s rear LCD. While the context is blurry, the subject should be in view.
Set your camera to AV MODE:
Since your main concern for bokeh is to hold the aperture wide, setting your camera to AV mode (also known as Aperture Priority) is only logical. This convenient feature helps you to pick the aperture and adjust the shutter speed for you automatically. You don’t have to estimate your exposure in AV mode or lose valuable time fiddling with buttons. When the aperture is adjusted, clicking the shutter is all you need to think about.
Don’t neglect the foreground!
Search for pleasing colors and shapes to fill the foreground. The shallow depth of field refers to both the backdrop and the foreground while dealing with large apertures. When you change the emphasis in the center on your subject, it would be blurry. Reflective surfaces like windows create good bokeh in the foreground. The lights that shine on windows fill the subject’s negative space quickly. Nonetheless, you need to experiment with different angles while filming with windows to avoid unwanted reflections.
The result you get may not be as spectacular as good lenses, but it teaches you how the concept works effectively. Attaining bokeh is a lot simpler than what other people think. Don’t overthink about this effect’s technical aspects. You can easily create images of mesmerizing backgrounds as long as you have a lens that allows you to control the DOF.