I go to the Ann Richards School in Austin, Texas. Last year I took a class in Photojournalism, and for the past semester have been in Yearbook. Over the course of these last few years I have found that really like photography, so I created a guide on one of the most interesting but easiest tricks I’ve learned.
I am making this instructable because I used to always see cool uses of bokeh in photography, and learned that it was really easy to create. This guide shows a thorough a step-by-step so others can learn to do the trick themselves and notice when it’s used as a key aspect to make a photo visually appealing. This instructable includes the basics about bokeh and ten easy steps to set up, create, and photograph it!
Step 1: Materials and Vocab
-Patio string lights
-F-stop (f/): The unit of measurement for aperture
-Macro Lense: A special type of camera lense that can take very close-up photos
-Subject: What is being photographed
Step 2: Understanding Bokeh
The word Bokeh comes from the Japanese ‘blur”. It is the aesthetically pleasing effect of out-of-focus light in a photograph, creating a more vivid subject and softer background. Bokeh can be created with an array of different lighting techniques and camera lenses, as it is the latter’s wide-open aperture that creates the effect.
Step 3: Establishing the Setting
The very first step of this process is to establish a subject, additional light source, and background. For this example I used a decorative Christmas tree as my subject, a ceiling fan as an additional light source, and a colorful blanket as my background. (Note: the background itself will not be in focus, but it’s color will show). It is important that the additional light source you use does not flash. The flashlight on cell phones is a great option.
Step 4: Seeing the Light
I used simple patio string lights for my example. In the photo, the larger the number of lights the more visually appealing it will be. Make sure that the lights you use will be prominent in your photo. Adjust the placing, layout, etc.
Step 5: Create Space Between the Subject and the Lights
This step is very important for bokeh to work. Creating space allows the camera to differentiate between the subject and the background, which then allows different components of the photo to be blurred out.
Step 6: Create Space Between the Lights and the Background
This is also important because it separates the lights from the background. Significantly less space is needed than between the light and the subject, but at least 1-2 inches would be ideal.
Step 7: Turn on the Camera and Adjust the Settings
If you are a beginner, set the camera to the Aperture Priority setting by turning the dial. (This is the “A” on Nikons, “Av” on Canons). If you are more advanced, turn your aperture to the most wide open possible for the lense. Ideally, this would be f/1.4, f/1/8, or the use of a macro lense. Look over the settings to make sure the lights you want to bokeh will show up. This is done by taking a few test shots and adjusting your ISO (light sensitivity) if needed. Make sure the flash is turned OFF.
Step 8: Angle
It is important to find the best angle to photograph your subject. Get as close as you can to the subject without excluding what you want in the photo or interfering with the focus of the camera.
Step 9: Viewfinder
Look through the viewfinder of the camera and determine what portions of the subject and background will look the best to include in your photo.
Step 10: Only Focus on the Subject
The automatic setting on the camera’s focus is normally a focus grid. To get this, press down halfway on the shutter release button (the button that takes the picture). The dots and/ or a grid representing the points in focus will automatically appear on the screen. Then, make sure the focus is only on the subject. This will guarantee that the background will blur and create the effect you want.
Step 11: Take the Picture!
Congratulations, you have effectively created bokeh in your photo! Now that you know how, be creative with the outcomes. Explore changing the placement of the string lights and creating bokeh with city lights, street lamps or in the daylight.