Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Photo TIPS! ~ Bokeh


You might have seen that over the internet in the comments of a photograph, or even as the name of a  photograph, but what does Bokeh mean?
First lets start off with clearing up some confusion I have seen related to Bokeh. One of the big confusions that I see very often is confusing Bokeh with the actual background (the things that are in the background) but Bokeh is related to how the background looks when it is blurred. To further explain the confusion lets use one of my pictures:

If you look towards the right of the picture (the eagles left side) you might notice how the ferns (the green plants, also located under the eagle) begin to blur. The blur itself is the Bokeh. If you look even closer, the blur begins to resemble circles. The reason it is shaped like a circle is because the lens, in which the light enters, is circular.

*If you grab a piece of paper and cut a star shaped hole into it about the size of the front of the lens, and place it on the lens the Bokeh will become star shapped (once again, the shape of the lens where the light enters determines the shape of the Bokeh). 

The confusion I see most often is thinking that the Bokeh is the background itself, and NOT the blur. The blur is what determines Bokeh, if the background is very clear and focused (normally when using small Aperture Click here for Tutorial on Aperture) and there is no blur then there is no Bokeh.
A picture with no Bokeh looks like this:

Notice how the entire background is in-focus and there is no blur.  

Now how do you make Bokeh? Well it's very simple. 

Bokeh is created when the Aperture of the lens is very large (small f/stop #) and there is a small amount of focused space relative to the size of the background. What that means is that if I have an Aperture of f8 (8 f/stop) and I am taking a picture of a person standing 5ft away from me, and we are on a field that is 300yd long, then the background will be out of focus because the 8 f/stop number is not capable of focusing so much space in the background. In other words it is possible to create Bokeh (blurry background) with a large f/stop #, as long as the background contains a space larger than the in-focus area.
The easiest way to achieve Bokeh is to have a very large Aperture (low f/stop #) like f1.8 (f1.8 = 1.8 f/stop) or any number usually lower than f5.6. This will create a very small amount of in-focus area when taking the picture and so if the background goes about 15ft further than the subject in focus then you should have the blurred effect: like this:

I used a VERY small f/stop # (Big Aperture) therefore the background is completely

Good/Bad Bokeh

This, like art itself, is very relative to taste. Some people might consider Good Bokeh bad, and Bad Bokeh good. The background of the picture above of the flower might look nice to some, but ugly to others. In reality I do not know of, and doubt the existence, of a standard for depicting the quality of Bokeh. Bokeh is like air, it is what it is, and you either like it or not (I hope you like air for your own sake). So you are the one that determines the worth of Bokeh, but only for yourself. I love the image of the flower above because of the HUGE contrast there is between the in-focus flower, and the completely burred background. Yet the smooth texture of the flower blends in quite a lot with the smooth background.

If you have any questions let me know by posting in the comments section under the post. Let me know if you enjoyed the post, and if it was helpful. Remember to SUBSCRIBE and if you would like a free picture (after subscribing of course ;)] the follow this Link.

Keep on Snappin',

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