Bokeh

Bokeh describes the quality of out-of-focus areas of an image. The word “bokeh” (pronounced as boh-keh) comes from the Japanese word “boke,” which roughly translates into English as “fuzziness” or “confusion.”

Flower and beeBokeh: not synonymous with blurry background

It’s ironic then that the term bokeh engenders confusion as to what it actually means. While bokeh is attributed to photos that display a shallow depth of field, bokeh should not be used as a synonym for “blurry background.”

Bokeh is about the quality, not amount, of blur

Bokeh actually has little to do with the amount of blur. Rather, it has everything to do with the quality of the blur.

bokeh4

Different lenses render out-of-focus areas of an image in different ways, giving rise to subjective opinions as to what constitutes an artistically pleasing bokeh. The general consensus is that ideally, out-of-focus areas should have smooth transitions between tonal areas and that out-of-focus points of light should be smooth and round, not hexagonal.

At the very least, the blurred background should not distract the viewer’s attention from the main subject of the photo. This is especially important when shooting portraits.

NailHow bokeh is effected

Further discussion of bokeh delves into whether out-of-focus points of light should be uniform all the way across or appear lighter or darker at their edges. The construction of a lens, the number of shutter leaves and the amount of light in a photographic situation all have an effect on the bokeh produced by that lens.

Connoisseurs of bokeh shop for camera lenses based on their preferred bokeh characteristics.

Some photographers have fun with bokeh, and incorporate out-of-focus points of light into their compositions.

Illustration not to scale

Illustration not to scale

Curious about the bokeh produced by your camera’s lens? To decrease the depth of field in your photographs, the best results are obtained by shooting at maximum aperture (smaller F number), a long focal length and a short distance to the subject.

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4 Responses

  1. Jhonny do says:

    In photography, the term bokeh represents the quality of the magical out-of-focus blur that makes it look like the subject is isolated from the background.
    I find a similar tutorial about understanding and how to Obtain Camera for Maximum Bokeh… just for share

  2. viral says:

    the “bokeh” (confusion) in my mind about the photographic “bokeh” has been cleared…thanx an keep it up guys!

  3. Bernard says:

    Bokeh can be hard to explain and understand. The best way to grasp the meaning of the word is to see examples, and those provided here are very good!

  1. July 13, 2009

    [...] is an unedited photo of the shot I took with a nice bokeh shot of Pristine with the Atlantis Hotel at the background. I have an SLR with cheap prime lens so this [...]