Tips: How to do Bokeh Photography


The blurred background has become very popular in photography. But why do photographers do that? Most often, it is for separating the main object from the scene. That is, bokeh in photography makes the thing more expressive and accented. To do it, you need:

  • Set up your camera for this type of shooting
  • Take pictures from a close distance
  • Stick to the correct aperture when shooting
  • Add bright bokeh light spots to the frame

There are artistic techniques in photography that professionals positively perceive. One of them is the so-called bokeh effect. You can get it not only on expensive photo equipment but also on a phone camera. You can create a bokeh picture with good settings, even on a smartphone. 

At the same time, it is unnecessary to resort to graphic editors and post-processing. You just need the right lighting. The best bokeh is when the light sources or unique light spots fall into the unsharp zone. You can create incredible shots by choosing the right angle and camera settings.

bokeh photography

What is Bokeh in Photography?

Bokeh is an artistic blurring of the background in a photo. It is created with the help of shooting an object with a high-power lens. Two things commonly refer to the term bokeh:

  • The first is the blurred background in the pictures. 
  • And the second is the quality of this blurred background. Roughly speaking, this is how blurry the image is outside of the focus area. 

Professionals usually associate a smeared background with a professional, "cinematic" shot. That is why it is of such interest to photographers.

During bokeh, the camera sharpens the objects on which the lens focuses. The rest of the things in the frame become out of focus. Usually, a bokeh picture clearly shows the area where the objects are sharp. There are two types of bokeh:

  • Hollywood Style Bokeh

It is a bokeh camera effect with glowing circles in the blur zone. Moreover, it can be not circles but rectangles, stars, and the like. Why Hollywood? Because in Hollywood films, many night scenes were with blurred colored circles. It became so popular that photographers decided to make it like a photography style.

  • Cream Bokeh

This style also includes a blurred background without bright, various circles. At the same time, the blur becomes a cream-like consistency. Such bokeh in photography is quite challenging to achieve. Because all the points in the blur zone try to turn into glowing discs in the picture. Thus, to learn it, you need to follow a clear rule about it.

The Essential Tricks for Capturing Stunning Bokeh Picture

Bokeh is a matter of technique. Which technique you choose will be the result of the bokeh pictures. The key to quality results is a good lens. But to get a good effect, buying the most expensive optics is unnecessary. 

The main thing is to choose a suitable adapter for your digital SLR camera. Thus, for intensive work, it is crucial to have a lens that should:

  • have a long focal length;
  • be bright (wide aperture);
  • have a specific optical scheme.

It can be a portrait, a macro, or a telephoto lens. The more blades of the diaphragm, the more the shape of the blurring discs resembles a circle. Kit lenses are not suitable for creation. They simply don't have enough light, so they can't make bokeh.

So, you need to use a high-power lens to achieve the bokeh camera effect. The higher the brightness, the better it is. The aperture value should be at least f/2.8, preferably f/2, f/1.8, or f/1.4. Many photographers like to use fast lenses with a constant focal length. 

With them, you can use the following techniques to create bokeh photos:

  • Light reflections should be far behind the subject or directly in front of the lens.
  • The distance between the light sources and the focal point should be the largest.
  • You should install lenses with the least possible aperture and long focal length on the camera. 
  • The camera is usually equipped with optics with a gap of f/1.4-2.8 and a FR 70-200 mm to get a spectacular side.

bokeh picture

How to Master the Art of Bokeh Picture: A Step-by-Step Guide

Bokeh is not just a photo style. It's a real art. You need to study the correct bokeh settings, special techniques, and angles. Without this knowledge, laying the foundation for bokeh photography is almost impossible. 

Thus, we recommend starting with step-by-step actions. Below we will tell you about the technical features of bokeh. There is nothing complicated about it. You just need patience. Gradually acquiring new skills, you can create masterpieces:

  • The main thing is to blur the background carefully so it does not extend to the main object. 
  • Otherwise, it will spoil the look of your photos. 
  • Also, pay attention to how to get the bokeh effect manually. 
  • When setting this up yourself, stick to the correct distance and aperture. 
  • It will help you focus your lens clearly on the target and take good photos

And to master the art of bokeh faster, keep our parameters for this:

1. Choose the optimal lens

Choose a lens with an aperture of f.2.8 or more. With this bokeh setting, you can create beautiful bokeh pictures. Place your subject in the background and vary the distance to the object. It is a typical route taken by photographers to achieve a blurred effect.

2. Increase the focal length

The greater this characteristic, the stronger the lens concentrates on the focused object. So, anything out of focus will appear blurry. On lenses with a variable focal length, it is preferable to choose a value not lower than 50.

3. Adjust the aperture of the lens

The larger the relative aperture, the easier it is to achieve blurring in the out-of-focus zone. So, for bokeh in photography, try to negate light settings as much as possible. 

Suitable aperture values ​​for the bokeh range are from 2.2 to 4.0. It is worth using if the lens supports even more exposure. So the shots will be more pronounced. 

4. Keep the focus distance

To do this, shoot close-up subjects with the lens focused as close as possible. The closer the focuser position is to the least focusing distance, the stronger the blur. Therefore, you can get a pleasing blur even on a "dark" lens.

5. Turn on exciting points of light in the background

Points of light are the most attractive forms of bokeh. So use sunlight or any other form of lighting to create a bright but distinct background for the image. Experiment with small light sources like Christmas lights when you take bokeh pictures

An ideal option for bokeh in photography is macro lenses. Such cameras specifically focus on the main object. So, they get a bright and saturated glare, which will look stunning without photo editors. Remember that the better the perception of light, the more beautiful the result will be.

How to Create Dreamy and Soft Backgrounds for Bokeh in Photography

Soft focus photography comes from the golden age of cinemagraphs in the 1950s. Buying special lenses or filters is the easiest way to achieve this effect. They have different strengths, so you can adapt them as you see fit. 

The advantage is that you will always understand what the result will be. The downside is that these filters tend to be quite expensive. But you can use the budget option. 

There are two ways to get a dreamy, soft bokeh effect. You will need petroleum jelly or nylon socks. Let's analyze the two options in more detail:

  1. Soft focus with petroleum jelly

The first thing to remember is to not apply vaseline directly to the lens. Use an inexpensive UV filter instead. Screw it onto the front of the lens. The quality of the UV filter does not matter. So you can buy the cheapest filter you can find. And to make a soft bokeh camera effect, follow these steps:

  • Attach the UV filter to the front of the lens.
  • Apply a little vaseline to your finger.
  • Use it on the surface of the lens. The layer should be thin and even. 
  • When ready, clean your finger off the vaseline with a wet wipe.
  • Take a photo and rate the result. If necessary, you can change the amount of vaseline on the filter.
  • You can apply vaseline to the filter to make the edge soft focus and the center sharper.
  1. Dreamy focus with stocking

You will need one stocking and a rubber band to secure it over the lens:

  • Make a pipe shape. To do this, cut the stocking along the length, and get a rectangular shape of the material.
  • Use a rubber band to secure the stocking to the front of the lens. You will need to stretch it to see through the material. The more you stretch it, the weaker the softening bokeh camera effect will be.
  • Using a black stocking will create a neutral color in the photo. But you can buy stockings in different colors and make the shade you want.

bokeh camera effect

5 Ways to Achieve the Perfect Bokeh Camera Effect

Very often, novice photographers face problems creating bokeh pictures. They don't know how to get the bokeh effect and which lens to choose. These things confuse them and prevent them from creating beautiful results. 

To avoid such problems, we have prepared tips for you. They will help you to handle this style of photography without any issues. These tips are general, but they determine half of your success for bokeh in photography:

  • Shoot with "fast" lenses

Fast lenses allow you to create a richer bokeh effect. The lens's aperture is determined by the size of the gap formed by the diaphragm. So using fast lenses during night shooting with a tripod will allow you to create excellent self-portraits.

  • Use a wide aperture

Shooting with the most open aperture creates sharpness on a small part of the object. And the surrounding space allows you to make it as blurred as possible. As a result, you have a perfect bokeh camera effect.

  • Do not forget about zoom lenses

Professionals criticize zoom lenses for their lack of clarity in photos. But zoom lenses will be great if you want to create expressive bokeh. Maximizing the main subject can distance it from the background and other objects.

  • Select the correct diaphragm blades

The lens bokeh depends on the number of blades on its aperture. It also depends on how the light distributes in the lens. For example, four blades give a bokeh the shape of a square. 

If you want to buy a lens with pleasing bokeh, first look at other photographers' pictures. The bokeh image is most clearly visible in the center. Closer to the edges of the picture, its shape is slightly distorted.

  • Don't overdo it

Bokeh in photography should always remain in the background and not appear on the main object of shooting. You don't need to make the whole photo blurry and go beyond the limits. 

The main thing here is to maintain a harmonious look. Thus, before creating this effect, you should carefully consider the composition. And it is crucial to use the knowledge gained from the above tips.

Best Effect Makers in Bokeh Photography  

Many photographers who are serious about fine art photography use a variety of aids. It allows them to get exciting bokeh in photography. For a great result, the main thing is to provide good light. You can use garlands, lamps without shades, candles, or the sun. 

A bright reflection of light will also work. It can be green trees under the bright sun or glass buildings of megacities. But remember, bokeh in photography occurs when the lighting is soft and even. And how to make it enjoyable? Unleash your creativity with the following ideas:




You can create bokeh in photography with a pencil, cardboard, scissors, and tape. For this, you need:

  • Draw a circle on the paper that corresponds to the size of your object.
  • You can draw "ears" to the resulting circle. It will be an attachment.
  • Then cut out the drawn template.
  • Draw the desired image in the circle's center and make a corresponding slit.

The hole should not be too big, but not too small either. In the first case, there will be no effect. And in the second, instead of "shapes," you will get a bokeh camera effect with vignetting.

Photo editor

If you know how to use processing apps for photographers, you can create a bokeh on any photo. The easiest way is to use the blur tool. It is available in most editing programs:

  • Open the desired image in the editor.
  • Turn on the blur tool.
  • Choose the desired brush diameter.
  • Move the brush to the preferred places while holding the left mouse button down.

By repeating this process, you can achieve a bokeh in photography. The main thing is not to overdo it and keep the harmonious look of the picture.

Create Your Photography Portfolio Website

Bokeh is a fantastic tool that photographers can use artistically in many ways. The variety of light sources that can be used is just as endless. The main thing is to follow the correct bokeh settings and not be afraid to experiment. 

Portfoliobox can help you with this. We will guide you through building your portfolio, choosing suitable cameras, and creating photo masterpieces.

Ein Online-Portfolio für Kreative

Mit allen Tools, die Profis brauchen

  • Dynamisches Raster
  • Gleichmäßige Reihen
  • Goldener Schnitt
  • Quadrat
  • Zentriert
  • Puzzle
  • Zufällig
  • Horizontal
  • Horizontal 2
  • Horizontal 3
  • Vertikal
  • Zwei zu Eins
  • Drei zu Eins

Jetzt kostenlos starten

Erstelle jetzt eine Website für dein Online-Portfolio

Erstelle dein Portfolio