In photography, bokeh is technically the blurry part of a photo – not blurry because you made a mistake, but blurry because it helps one thing to stand out while the rest is out of focus. Bokeh is also often referred to as the soft balls of light that appear in photos.
Over the last year I’ve become slightly obsessed with bokeh – ok, completely obsessed with bokeh and I’ve figured out some really easy ways to get killer bokeh shots, the ones with the light balls.
If you go under google images and search, “bokeh” you will see what I mean. The bokeh shapes that are not circles (stars, hearts, etc) are made by attaching a special filter onto your lens.
Typically the bokeh shots you see will be made with Christmas lights, sunlight filtering through leaves on a tree, dew drops on plants, rain, bubbles, or city street lights. So if you want to make some bokeh of your own, look for those subject matters and then turn your camera onto manual focus mode. Once you have the subject in focus, then turn it slightly out of focus and take a photo. This will give you bokeh with smaller light balls. The more you put the photo out of focus, the larger the balls will become until at one point they become a hexagon shape. It is incredibly fun to do.
After you’ve experimented with that, then find your white balance button on your camera and take the same photo with all the different white balance settings and you will see the balls of light change color before your eyes.
The easiest way I’ve found to get really great bokeh shots is to go out at night because the sunlight through the trees just hasn’t worked for me and by some miracle of nature, we’ve had the driest summer in years here and so we have not had any rain for bokeh shots. Go out at night to place with lots of lights: street lights, car lights, house lights, city lights, whatever, and then just start experimenting with the focus and the white balance.
Science world and city lights with a larger focus. Check out my previous post of a clear view of Science World.
Science world (gumball machine?) with a tighter focus.
Sky scraper lights across the water at dusk (the blurry lights on the bottom left is a boat moving through the water).