Bokeh. It’s the aesthetic quality of the blur or out-of-focus areas produced by a lens. In this post, I’m going to talk about creating the shallow depth of field with rich smooth buttery bokeh. Now before you can make bokeh, you need to produce a shallow depth of field. Here are some basic steps.
1. Create Distance
Put some distance between the subject and the background. The greater this distance, the greater the differentiation between what’s in and out of focus.
2. Wide Aperture
Employ a Large Aperture. Aperture often expressed in f-stops determines the depth of field in your photos. The smaller the number, the larger the whole that lets light into your camera. Larger apertures will give you a shallower depth of field; opening the doorway to all that is bokeh-licious.
3. Use the right lens
Different lenses offer different aperture values. To create a shallow depth of field, you’ll want something with the largest aperture possible. Also, consider your focal length. Wide angle lenses can work, but longer focal lengths add compression — an element that’s incredibly useful in separating in-focus subjects from out of focus areas.
4. Sensor: Bigger is Better!
Sensor size. Another important consideration. While shallow depth of field is possible with any size sensor, the available lenses, working distance from subjects, and overall rendering are significantly affected by sensor size. Typically, bigger is better.
5. Background for Bokeh
Chose a background that lends itself to being out of focus in an interesting way. Lights are always fun because they take on interesting shapes. You know… “not a blank white wall”
6. Don’t forget your foreground!
Shoot through a doorframe, compose with flowers in the foreground. Remember, shallow depth of field isn’t limited to showing off an out of focus background.
7. Try Less Distance
Use less distance between yourself and the subject. By moving closer, you’ll accentuate the details of your subject and add more nuance to the foreground and background.
Okay, bokeh time. Now bokeh is an anesthetic. Calling it good or bad is completely subjective. But there are a few things to look out for.
Aperture shape. If you fancy harsh, choppy bokeh select a lens with fewer aperture blades. The look here is blunt, crude and incredibly literal. There is nothing wrong with that. That might be what you’re going for. For a softer more organic look, consider larger aperture lenses with rounded blades.
This shapes the bokeh into spheres or delicate ovals. And if you want the softest most nuanced bokeh out there, try an apodization lens. These are some of my favorite types of lenses for portraiture. Essentially there’s an extra element included in the optical formula for smoothing the edge shape of the bokeh.
Do you have any other information about creating bokeh? Left your ideas and questions in the comments section below! and please don’t forget to follow kuulphoto.com on Twitter @kuulphoto