The Beautiful Bokeh Effect – A Complete Guide For Beginners
One of the most popular subjects in the world of photography, Bokeh or Boke is an effect that photographers and camera enthusiasts discuss frequently. Coming from a Japanese word, Bokeh actually means ‘blur’ and it is a photography effect achieved when the lens renders an out of focus background.
This effect is highly popular because of its ability to make photographs appear visually appealing. The blurry backdrop it creates draws attention to the foreground subject and the image looks eye-catching, unique and dreamy. Read on to learn how to create a beautiful Bokeh effect in your photographs.
Get the Right Lens
Most beginners who fail to achieve a great bokeh effect use the wrong lens. The key to a beautiful bokeh is using a lens with f/2.8 or wider aperture. A 50mm lens is a great choice for beginners playing around with bokeh. Telephoto lenses are also an ideal choice for achieving hazy backgrounds.
Use AV Mode
You want to keep the lens aperture as wide as possible to achieve a bokeh and this is why you should set the camera to AV mode or aperture priority mode.
It’s a very useful setting that lets you select your aperture and then the camera sets the shutter speed automatically for you. When you work in AV mode, you need not spend time guessing the exposure and pressing buttons unnecessarily.
Select the Right Background
The key to a great bokeh is selecting an appropriate background. While blurring a part of the shot is easy with the appropriate lens, it does not necessarily get you an appealing bokeh. Plain backdrops don’t have much visual matter and hence don’t create good bokeh.
Even if everything is blurred, elements like soft patterns, textures and light orbs will make the image look beautiful. Urban locations are great to get the best bokeh backgrounds, for example lighting on the streets and buildings create interesting visual elements for the backdrop, also fairy lights are a common choice that works great for bokeh.
Get a Good Foreground
When we think of bokeh, most of us imagine a blurry backdrop, but this is not always the case because the effect often consists of a foreground as well. To achieve the right shot, consider filling your foreground with appealing patterns or objects. When you focus on the subject in the foreground, with a wide aperture the background should blur automatically.
Focus on the Subject
It’s necessary to illuminate the subject well in order to get a beautiful bokeh effect, and it’s common to focus so much on achieving the bokeh backdrop that you ignore focusing on your primary subject.
To ensure a good exposure, half depress the shutter button to focus on your subject so it blurs the background but also makes sure your subject is sharp.
Create Distance between the Subject and the Background
By keeping the subject at a significant distance from the background, you can easily ensure a good bokeh effect. The larger the distance between the two, the better the effect. For the the best effect, the subject should be metres away from the background, but the right distance depends on the scenario.
As you increase the distance between the foreground and background, the lights and patterns in the background will get smaller, but also more blurry. But if you want to capture big light orbs you should keep the subject closer to the background.
Play Around with Colors
Bokeh can also be powerful at creating visually appealing, colourful backgrounds. To see the magic of bokeh and colors, choose locations with colorful lights. Try illuminating your subject in colors different from the backdrop for a contrasting look.
The most common subjects chosen for colourful bokeh photos are coloured fairy lights and large, close-up shots of flowers and other natural objects are also popular as subjects for bokeh photography.
One benefit of bokeh is you can use it to isolate the subject from the backdrop or get rid of not so beautiful backgrounds in the photo.
Creating a beautiful bokeh effect is easier than you would think, but don’t worry too much about the technical aspects of the effect, because it’s quite simple once you’ve had a bit of practice. I hope this guide will help you start capturing beautiful bokeh shots painlessly.