It is totally possible to achieve amazing Bokeh-shots with basic equipment. Here is how!
“What is bokeh?”
My answer: A dreamy touch to a photograph.
Official answer: The word “bokeh” is Japanese in origin and refers to blur or a blurry quality, and in photography it is a very recognizable technique.
“How to achieve bokeh in my pictures?”
Every photographer will answer you with the equipment you will need to achieve the best bokeh. I will help you to work around the lack of equipment, all you need is any basic DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera. I use a Nikon D3100.
If you have several lenses and one of them has a big aperture you should totally go for that lens. That is what the pro’s will tell you ;)
Aperture: identify on your camera screen by the “f/” and the number behind it. The smaller the number the bigger the aperture. I know that is confusing. This image will explain it:
The smaller the number, the wider the aperture.
A standard lens will have a maximum aperture of about f/4.0.
The ideal for great bokeh is a lens with a maximum between f/1.8 and f/3.0.
But don’t worry. I took the photo’s in this post with (a Nikkor 55-200mm zoom which has) a maximum aperture of f/4.0
“What does aperture do?”
A wide aperture will create a ‘Depth Of Field”. It will focus on a small part of the capture, and anything in the background of even the foreground will be blurry. Creating an effect of depth.
“How do I start?”
It’s quite simple, you just need to grab your DSLR and experiment and have fun. Put your camera in Manual setting, this is very important to get to know your equipment and achieve a signature look. Something that doesn’t look standard or regular.
Setting your camera to a wide Aperture means that lot’s of light can come in in a short time. Apart from your aperture there are other settings in Manual you need to look out for, like shutter speed.
Shutter speed is simply the amount of time your shutter is open to let the light in and take your picture. Outdoors in the sun you need a short shutter speed, indoors on a cloudy day you will need a longer shutter speed.
And this is where aperture comes in: While shooting Bokeh your aperture is wide and you can choose a short shutter speed, try some different ones and experiment with it. Is your picture too dark? Set a slightly longer shutter speed.
Tips for shooting Bokeh with a standard lens (f/4.0)
- The closer you are to your subject, the better. With my 55-200 lens I was actually quite far away, but it was the closest my lens could focus on the subject.
- The more space there is between your subject and it’s background the blurrier your bokeh will be.
- Set aperture to maximum (lowest numerical number)
Now just get out of the house and experiment with this new information. You don’t need an incredible environment to take incredible photographs. I live in the city and have these small pieces of land next to our building with just enough trees and flowers. A small city-garden or park will do.
Look at this:
This is where I took my pictures, not as dreamy now is it? (You can even see my apartment with the yellow balcony on the top floor!) Just zoom in, that’s the trick!
Oh! And don’t forget to Edit. I don’t know any photographers who don’t edit their photo’s. I edit with Camerabag, an application for Macbook. I just love it!
I hope I have cleared up the bokeh situation for you, send me your feedback and of course your bokeh shots! Just leave me a link or tag me in your tweet with your bokeh.