What is Bokeh in photography?

(Last Updated On: July 16, 2023)

What is Bokeh in photography?

If you take a camera and start turning the lens-focusing ring, the light sources will gradually become more and more blurred. When the focus is shifted to the maximum value, the points of light turn into circles. To put it simply, this is the bokeh effect.

From the Japanese language, the word “bokeh” is translated as blur or fuzziness. In photography terms, it explains how a lens displays points that are out of focus. This effect claims to be artistic and is used to add an interesting visual touch to a painting.

This post will show you what you need to do to create a beautiful bokeh effect. In addition, the text will help you understand the essential aspects of bokeh, namely the parameters of the camera and your abilities as a photographer.

Photographic lens manufacturers strive for the highest quality image in their way. Therefore, the bokeh turns out to be very diverse, and it is customary to divide it into different types.

Painted Bokeh:

It is not the most successful type, especially for portraits – unwanted artifacts in the form of a green outline may appear along the edge of the face.

It is due to the peculiarities of compensation for chromatic aberrations. The lens’s focal length depends on the wavelength of the light, but the distance from which it focuses is always different. As a result, most modern lenses have a greenish tint in the bokeh behind the subject and purple in front of it. Light staining is removed programmatically, but this does not work against solid artifacts, so you already have to work with your hands here. There are, of course, lenses that are free from this drawback, but they are expensive for novice amateur photographers.

Twisted Bokeh:

Twisted bokeh results from an undersized front lens or an inappropriate hood. Circles change their shape, amplified by astigmatism from which modern optical schemes are free; therefore, it is found only in old lenses and their replicas in a brightly accentuated form. Adding dynamics to the frame creates leading lines even where there are none, that is, radically changes the structure’s composition. It requires careful use; a particular subspecies is obtained in very high-aperture lenses with significant curvature. The light incident at a large angle is reflected from the lens and not refracted, and the circles begin to break, as it were.

Hard Bokeh:

It appears due to diffraction at the edge of lens frames and other lens structures. The edge is brighter than the center; it is convenient and beautiful when shooting at night, as it creates a light background from single luminous lanterns or garlands. However, during the day, it may not look so impressive; the circles merge. It leads to doubling lines – branches, grass, poles, fence rods, fingers on the hand, etc.

A bonus with hard bokeh lenses is the perceived sharpness near focus. Small circles form sharp lines, making the photo appear to have been processed with software filters.

There are not so many lenses in which they decided to drastically fight against the effect of hard bokeh with the help of a special built-in blur filter (a filter that provides natural soothing and blurring of parts of the image that are out of focus). It is not in vain for the effective aperture of the lens, which makes it less attractive for shots that require fast shutter speeds. Nevertheless, it is more convenient when working during the day, when an overloaded background is encountered.


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