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Bokeh; How to Get a Blurry Background

What is Bokeh?
atwellBokeh is a derivative of of the Japanese word “boke” that means blurr, haze. The first question to address, is why you would want the background of your subject to be blurred out? The common thought for most people when shooting photography or video is to have a fully clear and in focus image that showes all detail. But when professionally shooting, the goal is to blurr the background out order to get the subject to “pop”. Bokeh brings the subject to the forfront and makes sure all other distractions in the background are blurred out. At the same time this process can create some neat abstract imagry in the background. Especially if there are fixed points of light in the background. Sometimes you can capture some neat light ringlets or patterns. Bokeh can create some really visually appealing artistic effect. The next question is, how do you acquire this blurry background effect?

The Importance of Aperture

5011052457_cc2aec27f5_oThe number one way to acheive this is through a lower apature. A lower f-Stop is the tool or measurment you need. You need to set your camera to M or manual mode. Now you can change the f-stop on the lens. If you have a good lens, such as a prime lens or a constant apeture lens; you can aquire this effect. What you need to do is lower the f-stop to f/2.5 or lower. Remember though that the lower the f-stop the harder it can be to manually focus and keep the subject in focus. Again, a f-stop of 2.5 or lower is really great for shooting to get Bokeh.

You’re going to need plenty of light to shoot in. In order to get a clear image. If you’re shooting video outdoors be careful. You’ll need to bump up your f-stop to compensate for the intense light of outdoors.  In this case you’ll loose some Bokeh. When shooting for pictures you can run your shutter stop up. This way you can block out some light and keep your f-stop low to keep the bokeh.

Depth of Field

bird-197052_1920The other way to get Bokeh is to get physically closer to your subject. You can get closer by physically moving closer or you can use a long zoom lens. This autimatically reduces the depth of field. Shallow depth of field is what gives the look you want. Depth of field is “what subject matter is in the range of focus”. This is why the f/2.5 works. This measurment is going to give you the shallow depth of field you want. Drawing closer to the subject automatically does this. Getting closer to the subject physically changes the dynamics and allows for the Bokeh you desire.

What if I Want my Background in Focus?

There may be times when you want to show the subject and a fully focused background. To do this, simply set the aperture to a higher number. You’ll just have to test and see what works your situation. In an average sized room, f/8.0 ought to work. The higher the f-stop, the higher the depth of field. Thustly the more of the image you see in the view finder will be in focus.

I hope this helps you aquire the Bokeh and blurr you want. For any questions let me know!