“Bokeh” (pronounce this however you like) is that beautiful blur in the background of photos, bringing point-lights to large, hexagonal renderings. Some lenses render ‘pleasing Bokeh’ while others produce distracting Bokeh. Every beginning photographer wants shallow depth of field with this beautifully blurred background. It gives the artist another layer of control. You can draw in the focus of one’s eye on the subject without worrying about distracting elements of the background. The surreal non-environment of blur (never seen in the human eye) acts as an infinite, mysterious light-backdrop instead of the boring real world.
The Shape of Bokeh
The shape of the Bokeh Renders is actually a property of the iris. The closing and opening of the iris on your DSLR determines one’s aperture (how much light is let in) and the depth of field. The hexagonal, Octagonal or Circular shape of the Bokeh is because that is the shape of the iris. This gives us an interesting opportunity, by changing the shape of the iris for incoming light, we can change the rendered shape of our Bokeh. Sort of like designing a pinhole camera, the paper ‘iris’ restricts and shapes the incoming light. The updated SNL intro used this technique.
Deep Focus vs Shallow Focus
The wider your aperture the shallower the depth of field. Also, the more light you let in. This means when you open up the aperture at night to see your subject, it is also more difficult to keep your subject in focus. Used to your advantage, having your DSLR with a wide-open aperture (like f/1.2) means you’ll get a very blurry background. But this requires owning a ‘fast’ lens (one that can get wide apertures). Setting the subject closer to the camera than to their background helps because of the focal length. Finally, shooting on a long lens (50mm and above) has more drastic results than a wide lens (35mm and below).
So get out there and create some interesting imagery! If you have any questions about Focal Length, Iris, Aperture and lens size, don’t hesitate to contact us!
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