How to bokeh. It sounds like a dance move, doesn’t it? Let’s bokeh! Everybody bokeh now! And it is indeed fun to do. So what is it and more importantly how do you create bokeh? Bokeh is a photography term used to describe the blurry background created when the camera lens creates a shallow depth of field. It’s especially fun to try this with your DSLR camera at Christmas time in front of the tree to create some Christmas bokeh. I’m not the best photographer, but I’m getting better thanks to the help of Shoot Fly Shoot. More on that in a bit!
Below is my first attempt at bokeh. How much bokeh to go for is totally in the eye of the beholder. I wasn’t happy with this first attempt. It’s okay, but it’s not great. The paperwhites aren’t as crisp as I’d like and the bokeh is pretty, but I wanted something with more of a “wow” factor. I took this photo with my “everyday” lens which only goes down to a 3.5 aperture. To get the bokeh that I really wanted I needed to switch to my 50mm lens which goes down to a 1.8 aperture.
Okay, now I have my 50mm lens on my camera, and I set my aperture to 2.8, my ISO to 400, and my shutter speed to 1/15. Does that just sound like a bunch of gobbly gook to you? Awhile ago, it did to me as well! The Shoot Fly Shoot videos broke it all down for me in baby-terms that I needed to understand. So below you can see that I am able to really zoom in on the flowers and tell my camera to only focus on the front flowers and keep everything in the background blurry. I like this shot much better, so decide that my camera settings are good and now it’s just a matter of taking more pictures and seeing which ones I like best!
I really like the next picture, Do you see how the front two paperwhites are sharply in focus and the ones directly behind them are not? That is bokeh baby!
My 50mm lens unfortunately isn’t autofocus, so I’m not always the best at getting it perfectly in focus the first try. This next shot turned out great though. I love how crisp the little star flowers look up against the Christmas tree lights.
And I’ll end with this magical photo. So fun to play around with my camera and experiment with the settings in a way that is actually meaningful and makes sense to me!
If you want to learn more about how to create bokeh and just how to use your camera in manual mode, I highly recommend Shoot Fly Shoot classes. I have read my photography manual and even have a great photography book that I received for Christmas last year, but I’m a visual learner and learn best when I can see someone showing me how to change the settings. The video series is so helpful in showing you step-by-step how to use you camera. Buy yourself an early Christmas gift and take better photos this season! I promise you won’t regret it. I know that I haven’t.