How To: 7 Quick Tips To Create Bokeh With Digital Camera

April 15, 2010 · 40 comments

in Tips & Tricks

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word ‘boke’, which means fuzzy. In photography, bokeh defines the quality of the blurred lights presented in a photo. We’re not referring to a badly taken photo that’s all out of focus, but rather the aesthetically pleasing background blur. Usually, this type of blur highlights the focused subject even more.

Producing nice bokeh involves creating a shallow depth of field.

Here are some tips to get you started with bokeh photography:

1.) Larger aperture works best, so use a low f-stop number like f1.4, f1.8 or f2.8. I like using the Canon 50mm f1.8 or the 35mm f1.4 for this project.

2.) Set your camera to aperture priority.

3.) You would need to set the shutter speed faster than 1/50 second. Any slower and I find the background lights getting blurred together, instead of rendering small circles. If it’s too dark, increase the ISO level rather than the f-stop number.

4.) The closer you get to subject, the better. If you’re using a zoom lens, extend it to the longest focal length.

5.) The further away the background, the better.

6.) Ensure that the background is lit. Glowing lights like street lamps and traffic lights work best. While a consistently lit background would just create a regular blur.

7.) If you don’t have a subject and want to create the bokeh effect with the night lights, manually focus your camera.

Get inspired by the photos below and show us your best bokeh shots!

Yuki-chan and the Bokeh by josh.liba
Yuki-chan and the Bokeh

TTL by E-Rocks
TTL

The one with the red thread by dsevilla
The one with the red thread

Taxi by Al Fed
Taxi

Sheep meadow by orangachang
Sheep meadow

Kulio’ou’ou by da_godfaddah
Kulio'ou'ou

I wish I was special by irene gr
I wish I was special

Heart by seyed mostafa zamani
Heart

Have a Very Bokeh Christmas by Brandon Christopher Warren
Have a Very Bokeh Christmas

Burst of Life by matthileo
Burst of Life

Blur of city lights by Yiie
Blur of city lights

Ashlin by matt caplin
Ashlin

Aeia Loop by da_godfaddah
Aeia Loop

Another Journey By Train by Steve Leggat
Another Journey By Train

Bokeh Star by Maschinenraum
Bokeh Star

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Article by

1 part ad agency. 2 parts freelancer. An avid urban photographer, traveler, and streetwear lover. Geeky curator of all things awesome. Sustains on Vegemite, meat pies and lamingtons. Follow me on Twitter or Flickr.

Yi has written 69 awesome articles for us at Photoble

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the step by step guide. I will try this on my new Nikon D3000.
    http://www.abt.com/product/41850/Nikon-D3000KIT.html

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Excellent, let us know how you go with photos and it would be great if you can post up a link here too! :)

    - Yi

  • chocolateavalanche

    Thanks for the step by step guide. I will try this on my new Nikon D3000.
    http://www.abt.com/product/41850/Nikon-D3000KIT

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yiie

    Excellent, let us know how you go with photos and it would be great if you can post up a link here too! :)

    - Yi

  • http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/Hermitbiker Hermitbiker

    …. cool tips for some really great photographs !!

  • Hermitbiker

    …. cool tips for some really great photographs !!

  • Anonymous

    Sure. Ill do that. :)

  • chocolateavalanche

    Sure. Ill do that. :)

  • A. Hodge

    Thank you for listing this way. Great reference. So fun learning.

  • A. Hodge

    Thank you for listing this way. Great reference. So fun learning.

  • http://saadkhan.net Saad

    suparb !! love it

  • http://saadkhan.net Saad

    suparb !! love it

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  • http://photo.katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

    Awesome post!

  • http://katzmatt.com Matt Katzenberger

    Awesome post!

  • http://twitter.com/AbdulazizM1982 Abdulaziz Al-Madhi

    Nice.

  • http://twitter.com/AbdulazizM1982 Abdulaziz Al-Madhi

    Nice.

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  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    This is great! I cant wait to try it out on my new camera :D

  • http://www.brettwidmann.com Brett Widmann

    This is great! I cant wait to try it out on my new camera :D

  • http://rizuanismail.blogspot.com rizuanismail

    great tips… :)

  • http://rizuanismail.blogspot.com rizuanismail

    great tips… :)

  • Weiyihuanyuan

    Thanks for the step by step guide. I will try this on my new Nikon D3000.
    http://www.winbatterycharger.com/canon-battery-charger-imhn.htm

  • Weiyihuanyuan

    Thanks for the step by step guide. I will try this on my new Nikon D3000.
    http://www.winbatterycharger.com/canon-battery-charger-imhn.htm

  • Battery chargers
  • Battery chargers
  • Chee Yang

    Hi,
    I just got this camera not to long ago. I was wondering do any of you
    guys know how to make the background blur when taking a portraits
    picture or what kind of Lens should I get?

  • http://www.twitter.com/yiiee Yi

    Good question Chee. Firstly, try to buy a lens with a large aperture (so has a low f-stop number, such as 1.8 or 1.4). The cheapest one is usually the prime lens 50mm f1.8. To create that shallow depth of field, get up close to your subjects, with what you want to blur more further away. If you have a zoom lens, then zoom right into your subject. Have a play with the f-stop to create different degrees of blurs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1300633229 Gaz Mark

    fantasic tips thank you

  • Asms323

    sorry but bokeh is an arabic word ok and no one can say any thing

  • Shaunvos

    Leafy Bokeh

  • Memoriesbymac

    thanks for your tips.  I tried this a bit last year and just thought about it again now!  Your tips are great!

  • EmScoggs11

    This was so helpful for doing my photography project. I couldn’t figure out how to do Bokeh with the camera I am using and this really helped! thank You! I am using a fujiflim finepix HS 20.

  • http://entertainmentmesh.com/ Zavera Farid

    excelent step by step instructions, some of the most beautiful Bokeh effects have seen… love these all!

  • http://entertainmentbuzzz.com/ Muhammad arslan

    it is a nice article with some good tips, good work. Cheers

  • http://fashionhue.com/ eman

    i love it.i like the way you share,must try it.

  • Steve

    These are real good suggestions. But the only tip I have to respectfully disagree with is tip #4. If you’re close to the subject, you’re also close to anything that is in the background. Sometimes if you’re shooting a subject at night with a cityscape in the background, being close to the subject can still blur out the background and create a nice bokeh. During the day, everything will get picked up in the picture, even in shadow areas. There may be situations where there’s other things that are close behind the subject which isn’t supposed to be in the “background” (e.g, trees, nearby building, car, other people, etc). These things will have sharp edges in the bokeh if you’re standing close to the subject. Depth of field is the most important factor in achieving good bokeh. The shallower you can make the depth of field, the better the bokeh will
    appear. Having the subject far from the background helps create a shallow depth of field behind the subject. But if you’re standing close to the subject, you’re also close to the background. If you take a few steps further back from the subject than you normally would, you will achieve an overall shallower depth of field while still keeping the subject in focus. Let me know what you think of this idea or if you’re not really understanding it. I’m going to take some bokeh pictures as soon as I get my new camera and lens (a real big upgrade from my current equipment! :) ). I’m looking forward to posting them on here.

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