- The word “Bokeh” comes from the Japanese word that means “Blur” or “Fuzzy”.
boke (暈け or ボケ)
Bokeh is the area of the film that is commonly referred to as The Circle of Confusion. In short, it is the blurry part of your picture or film. However it is much more difficult to explain what bokeh actually is than it is to recognize it in a photo. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that anyone really cared about using blur as a technique. Of course filmmakers and photographers have been using focus to communicate their needs for decades, but would rarely try and use the Out-of-Focus (OOF) in the same regards. As technology advances more people are creating films, videos, and photographs. This large surge of “Creatives” may be the reason bokeh is getting more attention these days. It serves as a new way to help story tellers communicate in an artistic way.
I will only cover this concept with broad strokes and give you the resources to get more detailed information. My goal is to empower you with enough information that you can go out and start using bokeh to make spectacular images and video. Please post your successes so that we can celebrate victory together!
Two types of “Good Bokeh”
Circular (Hollywood) Style:
This style is used to take Out-Of-Focus Highlights (OOFHs) and turn them into an aesthetically pleasing circular blur to any light coming from the background. (IE: Alfie)
- How do I get this effect?
In order to get this effect you must have your aperture all the way open, a low f-Stop, and an appropriate distance from the object based on your lens and camera capabilities. They have also created scenes of high contrast in regards to color as well as light.
DID YOU KNOW??
These circular blurs can be custom shaped to just about anything you want. The aperture ring on the inside of the lens determines the shape. You can make your own aperture adaptation out of non-reflective black paper and attach it to your lens. To learn how to do this, watch the youtube video posted below.
This is the classic blur that you see most often. You’ll see incidental circular formations due to the aperture and the natural physics of how light travels and reflects off of the internal mirror. The examples below are screen shots from the movie Inception.
How do I get this effect?
A scene with little light and color contrast, a medium to large aperture, and low f-Stop can attain this effect. Another consideration is the distance between the lens, subject, and the OOFHs.
These are the basic concepts you will want to experiment with in order to learn how to affectively use bokeh. There are many websites out there to help explain the science behind these concepts.
The quality of bokeh is determined by how quickly the light can travel through the lens as well as how your camera reacts to that information. The least complicated lenses are called Prime Lenses and they will yield the best results.
References and online guides
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