In this article, I would like to explain what ‘bokeh’ is in Digital SLR Photography. Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality.” Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.
There are five factors that contribute the quality of the bokeh in photography:
1. The focal length of the lens. The longer the focal length, the blurrier the background will be. If you are using an 18 – 270 mm lens, 270 would be the longest focal length.
2. The distance to the subject. Selecting the subject is the first step in the creative process. The image revolves around a subject so take time in making the selection. Make sure your focus points are on the subject so your lens does not focus on the background which would result in a blurry subject. The closer you are to the subject, the blurrier the background will be.
3. The lens aperture. The wider the aperture, the blurrier the background will be. Some lenses are limited (especially kit lenses). Use the widest aperture that you can at the longest focal length that you can. f/1.4 to f/2.8 rock.
4. The quality of the lens. Some lenses have only 5 or 6 blades on the aperture, and other lenses may have 9 or even 14 blades on the aperture. In less expensive lenses, it is most common to see 6 blades in an aperture, and in more professional lenses it is more common to see 9 blades. The more blades, the better the bokeh.
5. The distance from the subject to the background. Usually, the further the subject is from the background, the blurrier the background will be.
Take a look at the two photos. The top one used a wide aperture of f/2.8 but the lens focal length was only 32mm. The bottom one was shot at f/6.3 but the focal length was 270 mm. Both photos have very good quality bokeh, so sometimes you do not need all five factors, just a few of them.
Practice creating good quality bokeh in your images using the equipment that you have. Have fun!
For more information on DSLR photography check out the online course.
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