Bokeh. Sweet, beautiful bokeh. Pronounced bo-keh (“bo” as in “bone” and “ke” as in “kenneth”), it refers to the character of all the out-of-focus areas within an image which is anything outside the depth of field. Normally bokeh is most noticeable in the background around highlights like reflections or light sources.
Additionally, there are “good” and “bad” types of bokeh. Bad bokeh is when a photo contains points of light in the background that are supposed to be out of focus yet they are harsh edged and look like donuts/little rolled up condoms. Good bokeh is when the points are sharper in the middle and the edges are more blurred making the background more blended. Neutral bokeh is somewhere in between. However, while something may be technically bad bokeh (such as these two pictures above) that does not mean that the bokeh was done wrong or is ugly. It’s really a matter of preference.
Though bokeh can be captured with most any lens – there are some that are better than others in giving you the bokeh-riffic shot you’ve been wanting. I could go into lots of detail here but I’ll leave it up to a professional who went ahead and created his own test on a variety of lenses to see which gave the best bokeh over at RickDenney.com.
Here is where it gets awesome. Bokeh isn’t just to be captured – bokeh is to be controlled. Not only can you work with your camera and/or buy the above mentioned lenses to get the best bokeh possible – you can now buy kits that allows you to use the lenses you already own and affix little lens covers that allow you to control the shape your illuminated points will take. Bokeh Masters Kit contains 20 different shapes and 8 lenses that you can create your own shapes! Now its not just circles – it’s hearts, stars and spaceships?
Finally – a DSLR Bokeh Tutorial that helped me in understanding WTF bokeh really is. Check it out at Robertsdonovan.com.
Mathy is officially buying a kit here in the next few weeks. As soon as we do, pictures will be uploaded of our Bokeh follies!