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B is for Bokeh

Welcome to “B” week!  🙂

Bokeh – a favorite in the photography world!  According to, the word “bokeh” comes from the Japanese word “boke” (pronounced bo-keh) which literally means fuzziness or dizziness.

Bokeh is said to describe the rendition of out-of-focus points of light. If sharpness is what happens at the point of best focus, then bokeh is what happens away from the point of best focus.

“Essentially, bokeh is a qualitative measure of light distortion in the out-of-focus areas of an image, and is primarily caused by lens aberrations and aperture shape,”(wikipedia). This is important to know when achieving bokeh in your photography.

Bokeh and Depth of Field (DOF)

It is easy to confuse nice bokeh with a very convenient shadowed DOF.  We’ve all done it, heck looking at some of the images I thought had great bokeh, I realize now (after doing a little bokeh research) it really isn’t.

So what’s the difference?

Not Bokeh Totally Bokeh

(Both images shot with a 50mm f1.4 lens)

Depth of Field (DOF)
When there is an obvious focus area in a photograph that is set against a out-of-focus (blurred) background or foreground is considered to have depth of field. The image of the flowers below is a good example of DOF.

(I took this with an f2.8 18-70mm lens)

Bokeh refers to how your camera lens renders the light that is seen within the blurred parts of the image. Sometimes this can be soft or harsh circular shapes, or look like hexagons, depending on your lens design and aperture settings.  (You can even make your own lens cover with whatever shape you want to make your own bokeh! HOWFUN!)

Image shown below displays a pretty good amount of bokeh. If a larger aperture was used, the background would’ve been smoother and “creamier”.

(taken with 50mm f1.4 lens)

Even though these terms are different in meaning, they are still relevant to each other and important to understand if you want to achieve bokeh in your photography.

So you want to get some Bokeh, eh?!

How to get Bokeh:

  • For D-SLR users: a fast lense: Any lense with a large aperture (i.e. f2.8, 1.4 etc)
  • Zoom: To exaggerate bokeh even more, use a zoom lens at its longest focal length (i.e. for a 70-200, use 200mm).
  • Understand DOF; Check back in two weeks for a DOF lesson on my blog for “D” week!
  • A background with light sources, a lit background, a bright background

So now you have the proper equipment and knowledge about DOF and bokeh, let’s take a sample shot:

  1. Place a subject with a light source behind them. It could be a candle, lamp, christmas lights, the sun etc.
  2. Use the largest aperture (remember, larger aperture is a SMALLER f number) and focus on your subject. If you are using a zoom lens, use the largest focal length to further enhance the depth of field.
  3. Make sure the light source (background) is truly out-of-focus by adjusting your distance to your subject.  If you remember the aperture lesson, the farther away from the same plane, the more out of focus it will be.
  4. Focus on your subject and press the shutter.

(50mm f/1.4 nikon lens)
Do you see thecircular/hexagonal shapes on the image above? That is bokeh.

When every light source becomes out-of-focus in the image is a good representation of bokeh. Sometimes an image doesn’t need to have light source to produce bokeh. It could be a reflection on the water and if the aperture is large enough, it will bokeh.

YAY! Now go make some BOKEH!!

(after you check out my “B” things below)  🙂

One of the best things about Saturdays in Madison is always knowing there will always be somewhere to go/something to do and many fun things to see–at the FARMER’S MARKET!  We are big fans of walking the square looking at everything in season!  This trip, it was Blueberry pie and Balloon hats!

We moved into our house a little over three years ago, when this beautiful spiria was NOT this abundant.  It’s slowly encroaching on my “display” and birdhouses it stands behind, but I LOVE the way it looks.  What bird wouldn’t what a house hugged by such beautiful blossoms?! B is for Birdhouse 🙂

I though it was SO cool to see this young bud! The whole city is in bloom, it’s hard to just pick one photo!  Fittingly enough this young black lab will be paired with it, I figured they had the “young” thing in common.  I had the pleasure of FINALLY meeting Miley (the dog) this week after hearing some crazy stories about her–like when she dived into the frozen pond making her owner fetch her out!

Baking Baked goods and Baby.  ‘nough said.  (other than, LOOK AT THAT BABY!)

Some good friends informed me that “Boos” definitely counts as a “b” word.  I took a few of the pictures in the same location so I will be posting more than 7 pictures, because I can, and I want to…It’s worth it, because I love this Bokeh:

and this Baby… He counts for two “B” words: Baby, and my little “Boyfriend” 🙂

I guess I can wrap it up there, it seems like a great note to leave ya’ll on.  I hope you enjoyed week “B”, and check back next week for “C” where composition will be discussed 🙂  See you there!

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