Top 8 Photography Tips for Getting Better Bokeh!
Bokeh, an English adaption of the Japanese word for blurry, is the blurry and out of focus part of a photo. Good bokeh is smooth and aims to make the subject pop in an image. It is also very visually appealing. Trying to get good bokeh can be a struggle however so we have our top eight tips to get blurrier and better bokeh.
1. Custom Filters
Traditionally, bokeh takes a circular or hexagonal shape depending on the lends. A trend that has appeared on social media recently allows for the photographer to create custom bokeh for their shots. This can be achieved by making a shaped template out of black bristol board. You simply cut the shape you want into the bristol board and attach the template onto the lens. Make sure to use a longer exposure because the custom template blocks a lot of light.
2. Use a Wider Aperture
The size of your bokeh depends on the smallest f/stop number on your camera. The larger the aperture, the wider the depth of field. The best and most plentiful bokeh is achieved using a small aperture and can not always be obtained using a kit lens. F/2.8 and wider is the most recommended aperture setting for bokeh.
3. Stand Close to Your Subject
This tip is great if your lens has limited aperture span. Standing close to your subject creates more blur in your image. This happens because it automatically creates a smaller depth of field. Macro lenses are ideal for this as they are meant to focus on a subject closely.
4. Distance Your Subject and the Background
Though standing close to the subject makes the image appear blurrier, having the subject and background too close together causes no bokeh. The further apart the subject and the background are, the more bokeh can be produced in the shot.
5. Lens Choice
The best bokeh shots generally come from macro, telephoto, and portrait lenses. Kit lenses can do bokeh but macro, portrait, and telephoto lenses are more speciality and typically create a smooth shot. Telephoto lenses specifically create a more extreme shot from a longer distance because of the decreased depth of field.
6. Multiple subjects in the shot, less blur
If you want a bokeh background but you have more than one subject in the shot, make sure to account for that. The rule of thumb is you add an f/stop for every person in the picture. This will lessen the blur but ensures that all of the people in your image are in focus.
7. Subjectless Bokeh
Choosing to not focus on a particular subject creates the blurriest bokeh. All you need to do is focus on a light source in manual mode and then adjust your lens so you are out of focus. This will cause the bokeh effect to be the main focus.
The best bokeh is sparkly bokeh. This can be achieved through taking advantage of natural light such as the sun or using light sources as the background. The most popular bokeh shots typically feature string lights or street lamps to provide a light source. The most interesting shots have a strong contrast of light and dark- a great way to get this is taking night bokeh shots.