Q: What in the world is Bokeh, and how is it Yummy?
Bokeh (BOH-Kay) in the photography world is the aesthetic quality of blur or out of focus parts of an image that is produced by a lens. Bokeh occurs in the parts of the image that are outside the depth of field, creating gorgeous little blobs of light. So basically it means “Blur.” You can choose to use this blur quality in the background or choose a “reverse bokeh” where the majority of your foreground is blurred. Photographers sometimes use a shallow focus or a shallow depth of field deliberately to focus the audience attention on the subject.
You can achieve this aesthetic “yummy” quality in your images in a few ways:
- Maximum aperture (smallest f-stop)
- Longest focal length you are limited to with the lens chosen
- Minimum distance to your subject
- Maximum distance your subject is to the background
In laymen terms, open your Aperture as large as you can, zoom in, and get warm and cozy with your subject while making sure they aren’t to close to the lights from which you are hoping to achieve bokeh circles. To achieve the maximum aperture you can set your camera to the AV (aperture priority mode) and turn the dial till you reach the smallest number. The aperture is how large the hole becomes when you click your trigger; to accomplish the yummiest of bokeh, the hole needs to be large, but on your camera that is the smallest f-stop number.
In the beginning don’t set out to take bokeh images, its hard to force. Rather, look for bokeh in your existing images and look at the metadata to see how you achieved it. In the metadata you will be able to view which lens you used, f-stop (aperture), and the focal length. Then you can examine how the bullet points listed above work, bokeh is all around us. It became more and more apparent once I realized how and why it was achieved. You can use these techniques while shooting pets, bugs, plants, landscapes, or even incorporate them into your portrait sessions.