Photography Tricks You Should Try: Bokeh

October 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

At least once in your life, you may have seen sparkly, translucent shapes in movies or even anime. They’re usually in the background when a particular shot goes out of focus (and no, I’m not referring to Edward’s glittering diamond body from the Twilight saga). You’ve probably wondered what these curious shapes are.

bokeh-colours-wallpaper

There’s a reason anime is mentioned above. It’s because the term of this particular camera trick came from the land of the rising sun. Bokeh (sounds like “bouquet”) comes from the Japanese term “boke” meaning blur or blur quality. In photography, it means a pleasing blur in a particular portion of a photograph characterized by semi-transparent orbs. The orbs are shaped according to the aperture opening of a camera. If the opening is more spherical, you get circular orbs. If the opening is more angular, then you get more geometric shapes like pentagons, hexagons, and the like.

In wedding photography, bokeh can be used to add that extra magical quality in photos. The orbs formed look like specks of fairy dust in the background. This photography trick can be applied in wedding invitations, prenuptial shoots, pictures of the wedding, or even the couple photoshoot during the nuptials itself.

So how does a photographer get bokeh in images? First, set your camera’s aperture wider than usual. That means your opening should be at about f/2.8 or anywhere between f/1.8 to f/2.

 

It is the photographer’s preference to choose ‘Automatic’ or ‘Manual’. Either mode has its unique features. In ‘Automatic’, the camera adjusts the shutter speed according to the size of the aperture. When using ‘Manual’, however, one has the freedom to experiment with the aperture size and shutter speed to achieve personalized effects. Professional photographers are the ones who frequent this setting.

Next, your subject must be behind a background with a light source or a surface that reflects light. Buildings, light fixtures, a body of water, or Christmas lights, will do. As an additional tip, using a tripod will be very helpful in getting clearer bokeh effects in your images. Admittedly, some camera operators still have shaky hands.

bokeh cat

When you look into your viewfinder with the previous tips applied, you will be pleased to see the bokeh effect in the background. If you want more orbs, then move your camera closer to the subject. Notice that the pictures with the best bokeh effects are those with medium, close up, or extreme close up shot sizes.

bokeh lights

You may think that these colorful shapes may be off-putting, but according to an online post by Nikon USA, bokeh doesn’t distract viewers from the subject. Rather, they are further highlighted as a result.

As a neat trick, you can also customize the shapes of the bokeh. You can do this by cutting out the desired shape (a heart, triangle, square, or even a snowflake on a piece of black paper. Then, place it in the very middle of the lens.

Bokeh filter clips that really make their photos stand out (adorably).

 As mentioned earlier, bokeh does not divert attention away from the subject/s, but enhances them. Since weddings are all about the bride and groom, bokeh would be an element perfect for capturing the special bond between the newlyweds.

 


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