Achieving Bokeh

You have probably seen it before, just maybe not understood it has a name. Bokeh is the effect of an out-of-focus background when shooting a subject. You achieve this using a fast lens, the wider the aperture the more out of focus the background will be. Generally, you will need to use at least f2.8 for the most impact. Furthermore, I find that fast primes (lenses that do not zoom) are best but any fast lens will do.

If you are not comfortable with your cameras manual mode, I would suggest going with Aperture Priority and set it wide open, the smallest number. In Aperture Priority, the camera will adjust the shutter speed to the appropriate settings automatically. Technically, you can achieve modest bokeh with a smaller aperture (larger number) by increasing the distance between your subject and the background. However, it is a bit more challenging to really through the background out-of-focus this way.

The most common use of bokeh is in portraiture. Close up portraits show the effect very well. The same goes for macro photographs of flowers or insects.

To demonstrate, take a look at the following three photographs. Notice the difference between the backgrounds in respect to the different apertures




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