Bokeh. You can pronounce it however you like and we can pretend it’s correct. Every time I say it to Caitlin, my assistant, I get corrected and I’m pretty sure I get it different every time. Bokeh is the blur or the quality of the blur for parts of a photograph that lie outside the chosen depth of field.
1. Use an aperture of 2.8 or lower as often as you can (i.e. shoot wide open). This creates a shallower depth of field and will help you achieve that lovely background blur automatically.
2. Place your subject far away from the background object. The further your subject is from the background the more they will stand out in the photo and your background will be even more creamy bokeh.
3. Get close to your subject. If you have a longer focal length lens (like an 85mm vs. a 50mm) and you get close with the 85 you’ll see more creamy bokeh. Just be careful not to get too close. If you get closer than the minimum focusing distance it’ll be very difficult to nail focus.
4. Use prime (fixed) lenses. These lenses are faster and allow you to shoot at lower apertures than a zoom lens would. However, using zooms (especially ones that are over 200mm) can also create some beautiful bokeh. My favorite lens is my 50mm 1.4.
5. Quality of bokeh can be both good and bad. The light areas in your background of a photo will define the quality of the bokeh and create circular patterns within the blur. The quality of these circular patterns can change depending on your lens. The more blades your lens’ aperture has the more circular these patterns will be and the less blades your lens these circular patterns will look like a polygon.
6. Get good at focusing. When you are shooting in a style that creates good bokeh you’ll want to ensure you’re focus is spot on for each subject in the photo. If you can get good at focusing that will help give your bokeh images a complete look. There’s nothing like having beautiful bokeh and a wonderfully composed photo only to see that your subject’s elbow is in focus and their eyes are not. Things like this can happen when working with such a low depth of field.
Carrie Swails Photography
Next week’s classes are all about catchlights and sparkly eyes on Monday and Pricing on Wednesday. Monday’s Catchlight’s Class is free so be sure you’re signed up. Wednesday you can bring all your pricing questions to the table while we discuss pricing products as well as sessions. The Pricing class is $15. If you can’t make it to either class, but you are interested you can still sign up and you’ll be able to watch the recording of the class later!