Tips for creating bokeh in camera

Bokeh, an effect created by a shallow depth of field within your lens, is a very popular effect in various areas of photography from portraits all the way to nature photography. Now, when you think of bokeh, you may think of the glittery, circular effect that is quite common, but bokeh can also be very smooth, with a gradient quality. The most important thing to keep in mind when creating these effects is what is in the background, and how much light is being reflected in the background. And, with the holidays approaching, you’re in luck, because there will be no shortage of twinkling lights either at your home or out and about on the streets! Learn more about experimenting with focus.

Here are a few tips on creating bokeh, and how it can enhance your photography:

Photo by Brandon Warren

A really fun and vibrant type of bokeh is the classic circular shape. This image was created with an aperture of f/4, which created the sharp focus on the camera, with the Christmas lights in the background being out of focus. As you can see, you don’t necessarily have to have your lens wide open to create this type of bokeh.

Photo by Steve-h 

As you can see here, bokeh can be used to create a focal point within your image and will take even the most ordinary scene and transform it into something magical.

Photo by Kevin Dooley  

If you want to experiment with something more abstract, you can use bokeh to create an abstract effect within your photo. If you have a macro lens, you are in luck, because even at f/8, this photo still has that creamy, smooth texture that is so unique to a macro lens depth of field.

Photo by Sippanont Samchai

As with the above image of the clothespins, the photographer here is using bokeh to bring focus towards the subject. And, as you can also see, bokeh works extremely well with a black and white photo. It is not too distracting here, and it simply brings our eyes to the subject, which happens to be an extremely adorable dog, but this technique would work on any subject, from people, to pets, to flowers and any object that you want to be in focus.

Photo by David Lea 

Now, if you want to try something different, you can experiment with filters that create bokeh that is in the shape of hearts, stars, shamrocks, Christmas trees, etc. to give your photo a quirky and fun vibe. These filters can be purchased for a very reasonable price, or, if you are a DIY type of person, you can make your own filter by using black paper to go over the front of your lens, with the shape of your choice cut out in the center of the paper.

Download this awesome Bokeh Cheat Sheet here!