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Tiny Tips 18: How to get Great Bokeh from your Lens

Bokeh Illustration

What’s ‘Bokeh’?

Bokeh IllustrationIt’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 that are close to the minimum focusing distance.
  3. Focus correctly. Having sharp, un-blurred areas in a photograph helps to make the un-focussed areas all the more beautiful.
  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. 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. 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.
Photo: vonSchnauzer

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Published: November 5, 2011 | Last Updated: December 24, 2020

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