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Bokeh: That Cool Blurry Thing

How to make that cool pictures where the subject of interest appears sharp and everything else is blurry?

One of the most attractive effects of photography is the so called bokeh, which is really easy to make once you know the theory beside it. Do not confuse with the “defocus” stuff, when you deliberately (or not) place the subject out of focus. For example when you take a close portrait with the Holga and you forgot to unset the landscape option of the lens.

Let me introduce the “depth of field” concept (from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field ):
“The depth of field (DOF) is the portion of a scene that appears sharp in the image”

Basically, the DOF is determined by the lens f-number. Lowering the aperture (increasing the f-number) increases the DOF, this results in a sharp image from the closest subject to the infinite. Just set a small aperture (f16 or f22), focus on your subject and almost everything will appear sharp in the picture, nice thing for landscapes.

Then, increasing the lens aperture diameter (lowering the f-number) decreases the DOF. So, once you manually focus your lens over the subject of interest, the portion of the scene that appears sharp will be really small, sometimes only few centimeters in front of the focus point and behind it (see the picture of the chess table).

Now you could understand that not all cameras will do the work, you would need to play with the aperture and focus. Single lens reflex (Zenit), Twin lens reflex (Seagull, Rolley) or rangefinder (Fed, Zorky) cameras are the best players coupled with a luminous lens (f2 or lower).

written by megustastu


  1. hindi

    What is the tips for the Diana F+?
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. awesomesther


    lovely. :) i shall try and play around with it :)

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. j_rad


    There are some beautiful images here!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. ericeast



    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. neels


    the diana mini setting for "cloudy" gives the camera a bigger aperture that would allow for some depth of field effect (only to be used in lower light conditions otherwise in sharper light you might over-expose the pic). Put the focus on 0.6M or 1/2M and experiment!
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. neels


    very cool tipster!!! i love this effect.
    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. hughh


    I love playing around with old slrs to create this effect. Great pictures!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. laurasulilly


    Very nice pictures! I love to to this with my old analogue minoltas! which cameras did you use for your bokeh-pcs?

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. pangmark


    beautiful examples and crystal clear explanation.

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. revolte


    I will try it, thanks!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam

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