How to Shoot A Photo With Bokeh In The Background
Have you been hearing that word “bokeh” get tossed around in different photography communities?
It’s because it’s a super popular and beautiful part of any image- especially portraits. But maybe you’re just not quite sure what it is or how you can achieve it in camera.
Don’t worry! Keep reading and I’ll help you learn how to shoot a photo with bokeh in the background. (Would you rather listen and learn? I talk about this same topic on the Stay Focused Podcast this week! Listen here.)
What Is Bokeh?
Bokeh is a Japanese word that translated means blur. For some people bokeh is simply a blurry background. For others (myself included) when the word bokeh is used, it does imply blurriness to the background, but also circles of light that shine through behind your subject.
How To Get Bokeh in Your Background
Now you know what it is, let’s figure out how you can make it happen in your photos!
Pull Your Subject Away From The Background
Start by really pulling your subject away from the background. Don’t put them right up against a tree or bushes or whatever it is that is behind them. Make sure they are a good distance away from whatever is behind them.
(Notice how she is way in front of the trees and bushes. She is not right up against them)
Shoot Wide Open
Using a wider aperture will help you achieve that beautiful blur or bokeh in your photo. If you just have one subject- try to shoot at 1.8 (ish) and see what happens. If you have more than one subject, you might want to raise it a little higher.
(Shot at an aperture of f/2.2)
Use A Longer Focal Length
While you can achieve great bokeh with any lens, the longer yours is will help you in mastering the bokeh or blur in the background. The 50mm 1.8 is an awesome lens to start with to start seeing bokeh in your photos (and you can grab one from right around 100 bucks!) But going longer, maybe 85mm or 135mm, can help you out even more!
(Shot with a Canon 135mm 2.0)
Look For Light Shining Through In The Background
This can be the tricky part- but it’s also the part that will allow those circular looking sparkles of light to show up in your photo. Look for how the light falls through the trees or bushes. Look for light in the environment (light posts, Christmas lights, porch lights, lights in the city, etc.) when set up correctly, the natural light in the environment will show up as bokeh in your background!
(See the circle of light coming in through the trees in the back- that is your natural bokeh!)
Add It In
If you want to add it in later in Photoshop you can too! While it’s always the best idea to try to get your shot the way you want it to look in camera, editing it in later can be fun and allow you more creativity.
Hope you learned something new and find that beautiful bokeh you’re looking for! If you do try out this tutorial make sure to tag me or mention me over on Instagram (@cozyclicks)! I love seeing what you create!