Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beautiful Bokeh - Part 3

100mm focal length, 1/125 sec at f/2.8

So, here's how to create beautiful bokeh backgrounds:
(See previous two posts for Parts 1 and 2 of this tutorial.)

1.  Look for just the right composition.  Look for a background that has softly dappled light peeking through interesting textures; or water droplets clinging to stems or other objects; or interresting reflections, or a combination of all three.  

2.  Find an angle where you can position your camera close to your foreground main subject and have the interesting background some distance away.

3.  For those who have a point and shoot camera, and just want to, hummm, point and shoot:  Put your picture mode to Portrait and experiment, and then change to Macro and experiment some more.  If your camera has the ability to independently change the aperture setting you will have better results.  Continue reading.

4.  For those who have a DSLR:  a fixed macro lens set at a large aperture, (small number), seems to work best for me.  I use a 100mm, 2.8 macro lens.  If you have a zoom lens, that will work, too.  Be sure to set it to the longest focal length and largest aperture, (see next point.)

5.  Bracket, bracket, bracket.  This means, put your camera in Aperture Priority mode and take many different shots, varying your aperture.  Each change of the aperture will alter how soft your background focus is, and will also change the size and softness of the bokeh, giving the image many different looks.  Then you get to decide in post processing, which one you like best.

The formula for achieving the look you want is practice, observe, practice, observe, repeat, repeat, repeat.  You have to become familiar with the possibilities and limitations of the lens you are using, and you also have to develop an 'eye' for the type of compositions that will create bokeh and will compliment your main subject.

For even more fun and more flexibility in creating your beautiful bokeh backgrounds, check back tomorrow and I'll talk about how post editing can be your best friend!