Bokeh is the name given to the blur seen in the background of many photos, typically taking the form of miniature circles. The presence of bokeh gives any photo a very appealing look, drawing the viewers’ eyes to a certain person or object of importance. It can also take up the entire frame, creating a unique and often colorful photo. Bokeh is fairly easy to create and play with if you have a DSLR camera, so I will be giving a few tips on how to do that. If you own an iPhone 7 Plus or newer, you can create bokeh using the Portrait Mode setting in the Camera app. However, the tips in this guide will be geared towards DSLR camera use. I will also include a few photos of mine that have good bokeh in the background, along with the camera settings that were used when I took the photos.
Place the subject several feet in front of the background
The further forward the subject is from the background, the blurrier the background will appear. This is a simple way to remember how to create a good background blur. If you are trying to turn a specific object in the background blurry, have your subject stand a foot or two in front of it. In the example below, I had my dog, Jett, sit a few feet in front of the mini Christmas tree. The lights on the tree then became very blurred behind him.
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Use a lens that can reach an extremely small aperture
The lens I used in the photo above and the photo below was the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. This aperture on this lens can go all the way down to 1.8- the lowest aperture on many standard lenses is only 5.6. If you have a lens that can reach such a low aperture, try switching the focus mode to manual focus. This allows you to designate the size of the bokeh by turning the ring on the lens, although I found it difficult to then focus on an object in the foreground. Play around with the aperture and keep practicing focusing manually- the results are definitely worth it.
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Fill the entire photo with bokeh
Bokeh looks great in the background of a photo, but also looks cool when it makes up the entire photo. Play around with different shapes and colors of lights and see how they turn out in bokeh form. The possibilities are endless, and the photos are always fun to create.
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