Tiny Tips 18: How to Get Great Bokeh from Your Lens

Everyone who knows what Bokeh is wants it… Those who have it, never want to let it go. Can you ever have enough of it? Probably… But if you don’t have enough bokeh, you first need to ask yourself… Are you doing everything you can with your equipment to get amazing bokeh? Let’s find out.

What’s ‘Bokeh’?

Bokeh Illustration

It’s a word of Japanese origin used to describe the aesthetic quality of the ‘out-of-focus’ area of a photograph. Typically referring to the more visible ‘circles of confusion’ that are visible in shallow depth of field photographs.

To Get the Best Bokeh Possible, Do This:

  1. Use a fast lens, with the aperture wide open.
  2. Shoot subjects close to the minimum focusing distance. This gives you the narrowest depth of field, and the most bokeh that your lens can produce at its widest aperture.
  3. Focus correctly. Having sharp, un-blurred areas in a photograph helps to make the unfocussed areas all the more beautiful. These days it is easier to get perfect focus on the eye of the subject with eye-focus mode on mirrorless cameras.
  4. Use prime lenses. While zooms also can produce fine bokeh, prime lenses have the habit of producing bokeh with an ethereal quality. If you have a choice, definitely choose a prime lens.
  5. Include point sources of light in your background. Bokeh shows up best when there are some light areas (or points of light) on a relatively dark background. In the case of points of light, they appear as circles of confusion, in other cases, it appears as a pleasing variation of light and shade, the tonality of this area affects the quality of the bokeh.
  6. Use Interesting shapes. Keep interesting shapes in your frame even though they’re out of focus. Often, these are called ‘out of focus elements’. They lend context and atmosphere to a photograph.

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Susheel Chandradhas
Susheel Chandradhas

Susheel Chandradhas is a Product Photographer and Filmmaker based in India. He has been taking photographs (almost) all his life. He has a diploma and a bachelors degree in Visual Communication, where his classmates all believed that he would write a book on photography... Instead, he writes on this website (because - isn't a community more fun?).

His passions include photography, parkour, wide-angle lenses, blue skies, fire extinguishers, and fast computers.

In addition to writing for Beyond Photo Tips, Susheel is a staff writer for Fstoppers.com, and owns and runs ColoursAlive, a photography, and video production studio.

You can connect with Susheel on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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2 Comments

  1. This is one of the interesting part in photography that I always wanted to try…..now with these tips it has made lot more easy to click….

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