What is Bokeh?

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Bokeh is one of the most popular subjects in photography that describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light. The word “Boke” comes from a Japanese word that literally means blur. Bokeh is rendered through the lens and not by the camera. It is not the blur itself but it is the quality and texture of the background blur and reflected lights.

Some of the photographers refer bokeh as the quality of circular lights reflections while others pertain to it as the over- all blur that shows the texture and depth of a photo. The quality of a bokeh depends on the lens the photographer is using and lenses that has fast apertures are the ones that produces visually- appealing bokeh. These lenses are usually seen on most professional zoom cameras. Generally, portrait and telephoto lenses with large maximum apertures produce beautiful bokeh than cheaper consumer zoom lenses. Bokeh can also have different shapes which depends on the lens diaphragm.

As mentioned earlier, a good bokeh depends on the kind of lens being used. To test whether your lens can produce good bokeh, you can do a quick test on it. Focus on a subject as close as your lens can allow and you should keep the subject in focus. Also, there should not be anything behind it within five to six feet and place yourself on the same level so that you’re not looking down on your subject. Try to find a colorful background to better see the contrast of the subject and the bokeh it will produce. A Christmas tree is a perfect background for it usually has lights. Once you have the suitable background, set your camera to “Aperture Priority” mode and set your aperture to the lowest number. Once the aperture is set to the lowest value, take a picture of your subject and take a look at the rear LCD of your camera. The subject should be in focus, while the background is blurred. If you have good lens, the bokeh’s texture should be soft and fuzzy while the circular reflections are round and soft with no hard edges.

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