Bokeh Blur


The first time I head the word "bokeh", I thought it was a Japanese camera. So I decided that I'd look it up, turns out I was really wrong. And I also have a bunch of photos that have this particular effect!

The term “bokeh” comes from the Japanese word “boke”, which means “blur” or “haze”. This word describes the way that the lens of a camera renders the light when it is out-of-focus. It usually comes out as circular shapes in the back ground of your picture.

When your setting isn’t focused to the points of light in your shot, it produces blurred circles that give depth to your photo. During the day, you usually won’t get very many of these circular lights because they are not bright enough against daylight to show up well.

On the other hand, dark places work very well if you want the bokeh effect.

And then there are the occasional situations when you have things like leaves and trees that filter spots of light into the background of your picture. I find these to be the best ones. I’ve gotten some great shots when I shoot with nature.

So if you’d like the closest thing to 3D in your film, bokeh may be your best shot!

written by natalieerachel on 2011-03-08 in #gear #tipster


  1. samchau
    samchau ·

    genuinely loving this effect!

  2. nigelk
    nigelk ·

    Nice analysis of bokeh!

  3. gelibee
    gelibee ·

    I love Bokeh! Make sure that you have a shallow depth of field to achieve that bokehlicious goodness! :D

  4. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    The best way to get lots of bokeh is to follow Golden Rule #5….get as close as possible!

    The closer you are to whatever you want to shoot, and the further in the distance the lights or whatever it is that you want to give your Bokeh effect, the bigger it will be.

    Bokeh is easy to achieve using a Lomo LC-A, because it has large aperture lens of F2.8 and a short focusing distance of 80cm, which means that if the light isn't too bright to camera can leave the aperture wide-open to give you that wonderful smooth and silky effect in the distance of anything in the distance.

    To ensure you get as much bokeh as possible always use the slowest film you can, (taking into account the lighting conditions), which means always using ISO 100 on bright sunny days. However when indoors and at night, you can still get great bokeh when using ISO 800. The biggest danger is using a film that is too slow, which will end up giving you camera shake.

  5. willyboy
    willyboy ·

    I had a Japanese "boke" once. Ever so small he was.

  6. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    Actually, if you wanna be in total control of your bokeh and don't wanna just "hope" it's gonna work, it's best to use a DSL and use the largest aperture possible, something between 1.4 to 2.8 (interestingly, aperture isn't mentioned in the article, but it's the most important device to get the bokeh-effect). In case of Lomo cams, the LC-A and Smena cams and any other camera which enables you to set apertures works fine. In terms of composition, I like it best to have the most important part of the motive focussed (the positive space) and the negative space "blurred" because that's what makes a picture really interesting and sort of guides your attention to the part of the image you'd like to be in the centre of attention!

  7. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    @disasterarea is spot on their analyis and I hoped to write something of the same effect for a tipster and never got round to it! And @laurasulilly yes, to an extent prime lenses will give the best results, but equally macro lenses and telephoto lenses will also produce good bokeh, due to the limited depth of field. Equally the larger format film you are using, generally the smaller the depth of field for equivalent lenses and aperture.

  8. xutuluh
    xutuluh ·

    its called "dslr" for "digital single lense reflex" - and to keep it cool and analog just say "slr" :)

  9. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    @nicolas_noir and xutuluh: thanks for the extra info/correction...i did mean (analogue) slr but i didn't remember the correct term in English :)

  10. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    The Lomo LC-A is a great camera for bokeh effects, if you can tempt its automatic aperture settings to do what you want.

    In low light, in addition to slowing down the shutter speed to let more light hit the film, the camera opens up the aperture on the lens to it's biggest value of F2.8 (yes, smaller number means bigger aperture), which is best described as increasing the hole that the light can come through. By increasing this hole it has a "side effect" of reducing the depth-of-field making anything outside your focusing area blurry....and the greater the distance between what your focusing on and the background, the more bokeh you will get.

    Meanwhile on a bright day, to limit the light hitting the film and stop your pictures from being over exposed, in addition to increasing the shutter speed (which also prevents motion blur), it closes the aperture to as small as F16. When the aperture gets smaller, it increases the depth of field making more things in your picture between the front and back of the picture in focus.

    Have Fun!

  11. iamhirsch
    iamhirsch ·

    Oh, how I absolutely adore the first picture!

  12. natalieerachel
    natalieerachel ·

    Wow thanks for all the feedback everyone! :)
    @iamhirsch It's in my swimming album if you wanted to check it out!…

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