Bokeh photography tips

Ever wondered how a dreamy out-of-focus background is achieved in photography? Well, the technique used is called Bokeh (pronounced BOH-kay) and is the result of shooting with a small depth of field and fast shutter speed. The word Bokeh derives from boke (ボケ) a Japanese word for “haze” or “blur” and often appears as boke-aji, a term that refers to the quality of a blur in an image.

A popular example of Bokeh photography is capturing tough-to-shoot artificial lights as soft, pastel, diffused orbs of glowing light. So, with the twinkling of Christmas lights and candles everywhere, it’s a wonderful time to try your hand at Bokeh photography!

We’ve prepared a few tips below to get you started:

You will need:

Camera with adjustable aperture
A fast lens
Some Christmas lights


What to do:

1. For the best results, select “Aperture Priority” mode or manage your aperture manually (f/2.8 aperture, f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 are really ideal)
2. Use the tripod to steady your camera as you want you want a razor sharp focus on your subject to show off your Bokeh skills
3. Leave distance between your lit background and your subject of focus
4. Get up close to your subject to create a shallow depth-of-field, this will enhance the dream-like blur of anything highlighted in the background.

Shot of a cute little girl using a digital tablet

You can also use your mobile

You don’t actually need a fancy camera to take your own bokeh photography, as most smartphones now have the capability to capture brilliant bokeh effects. Phones that have an aperture wider than f/2.8 and can shoot at a 1/50 shutter speed (the standard shutter speed) will get the best results but others will also work depending on the model of the phone.

If your phone doesn’t have that built-in functionality, no stress – because several of our favourite photo editing apps do.


Experiment with your shots

Now you’ve got the hang of it, you can try experimenting with Bokeh in the foreground (Shooting with lights in front of subject).

Street portrait of young happy woman on the festive Christmas market at night

You can even add Christmas themed lens filters such as stars, trees etc. Find out how here.


Once you’ve captured those magical Bokeh inspired moments, why not showcase your festive photos on wall art or perhaps a calendar and give it as a gift? Share your own bokeh photography with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so we can see what you’ve been up to!