How To Photograph 'Bokeh'

     I took these photographs the other day during a snow shower that was melting. I used a macro lens attempting to capture small snowflakes in detail but the temperatures were too warm for snow accumulation. I ended up deciding to take a couple photos of the water droplets anyway.   

     The simplest answer for how to photograph a ‘bokeh’ or blurry background is to control the aperture of the lens. The aperture is designated by F-stop numbers. These determine the size of the opening for the light to pass through to reach the camera sensor. Smaller F numbers indicate a larger opening and therefore more light. F-stops around the F1.2 through F4.0 will often yield shallow depth of field (fancy phrase for smooth out of focus areas).

    Macro photos are an easy example of shallow depth of field because the focus is usually close to the lens. Having an object stand out from the background will make the out of focus blur more pronounced.

     The top photograph here shows a shallow region in focus, highlighting a specific spot, versus the bottom photograph which has more in focus across the image.

Photographing for blurry background effect-

- Use small F-Stops (F1.2- F4)

- Distance the object in focus from the background if you can

- Photograph horizontally for the distance rather than vertically and reach a flat surface

- Additional effects via software can be used to replicate blurring as well although it may look less natural

Depth of Field 1
Depth of Field 2
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