How to Create Bokeh

Photofocus (old site)

I’m often asked about bokeh (which has a myriad of pronunciations  — boʊkɛ / boh-kay / boh-kə).  The word originates from the Japanese word boke, which means “blur” or “haze.” It is essentially the aesthetic quality of the blur in an out of focus area of a photo.  This is generally done to create a pleasant framing for a subject where the background is thrown out of focus and the subject becomes more pronounced.

bokehporait

The goal is to create a background that is pleasing.  The goal is to push the scene far enough so that the distracting elements are removed.  Bokeh usually appears in the brighter areas of a scene that fall outside of the region that is in focus. However, bokeh can appear at all tonal values.

The easiest way to create bokeh is to use a fast lens.  That’s to say one that is capable of shooting at a wide Aperture.  The…

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