Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”, or boke-aji, the “blur quality.” Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.
~According to Nikon USA’s website.
Bokeh is a technique that generally gives portraits a pleasing aesthetic while drawing the eye towards the subject–making the model pop out. The trick is to have a lens that can open up to at least F 2.8 or wider (e.g., F 2 or F 1.4). These wider apertures are referred to as fast apertures.
So, making a portrait with bokeh (soft blurry background) using a DSLR can be as simple as:
- Setting your camera to aperture priority.
- Adjusting your aperture to F 2.8.
- Having your model stand in front of a wall with the wall about two metres behind them.
- Focusing on the model and then clicking.
Check out the examples below.
Portrait using wide aperture — more bokeh
Portrait using narrow aperture — little bokeh
- Feature image: talent – Tara; location – Surabaya, Indonesia.
- Aperture examples: talent Wiet; location – Aletheia Backhouse in Ubud, Bali.