Create stunning and artistic masterpieces with a technique known as bokeh. Referring to the blurring or haziness in an image, bokeh gives character to your composition and even helps you to place emphasis on your subject matter.
The first step to achieving a bokeh is using a wide aperture, such as f/2.8. A wide aperture will give you a shallower depth of field, thereby allowing you to isolate your subject from a distracting background. Everything beyond your chosen focal point will then be softened and blurred. This large aperture will let in more light, which in turn, helps decrease depth of field, resulting in a smoother and more wholesome bokeh that’s pleasing to the eye.
Another thing to note is that the number of blades on your aperture may affect the shape and looks of the bokeh you will achieve. The more blades, the rounder the bokeh.
The key to mastering bokeh is learning to use depth of field to your advantage. To put it plainly, you must have adequate space between the foreground and background, as it is this distance that will facilitate blurring. The wider the distance between the subject and the background, the stronger the bokeh will be. Keep the same concept in mind when capturing a foreground bokeh. Make sure the element you want to blur out is closer to your lens, making it more out of focus. Remember to use the right focusing method to achieve a strong bokeh. Another tip is to use a macro lens, as they can greatly intensify background blur when shooting a subject up close.
When scouting for shooting locations, there are a few things you can do to make your composition more interesting. Firstly, try and make the colours in the background complement your subject. This will help to enhance the overall composition and give it a sense of harmony. Secondly, experiment with an environment that’s varied and eclectic, such as a city street. This will give the viewer more stimuli and will allow the bokeh to properly work its magic. Alternatively, if you want the focus to lay entirely on the subject, pick a location where there’s an abundance of the same colour, such as the greenery in a park. This will help to draw the eye of the viewer to your subject.
As with everything in photography, lighting is crucial. The type of light will dictate the kind of bokeh you will achieve. For example, shooting in a softer light will result in a creamy bokeh, whereas shooting in the midday sun, will give you a harsher, grainier bokeh. The most important thing to remember, is that the subject should be the brightest part of the shot. If your subject is a person, ensure there is adequate lighting on their face to help draw the viewer to the intended point of interest.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to get creative. Make your compositions even more interesting by playing with lights and shadows. Shoot in front of dynamic light sources, like sunlight streaming through a window or a set of traffic lights. These will help you create scintillating bokehs with eclectic colours and textures. When shooting with bokeh, it’s also important to try and achieve balance. The key is to find the right amount of blurring to suit the situation. Sometimes, bokeh can be a little too intense, and can make the entire composition feel too closed in.
This wonderful technique is definitely one to add to your photographic repertoire. It can help make a not-so-interesting background beautiful, and diffuse a busy scene to highlight your subject. At the end of the day, it’s all about experimentation. Remember, practice makes perfect!