Thursday, August 22, 2013

Beautiful Bokeh

Dreaming In Pink

I remember way back when I first started trying to improve my photography, I discovered that my pictures had much more impact when I learned how to isolated my subject from the background.  In other words, have my foreground subject in sharp focus, and have the background a soft blur.  Wow, I really thought I had achieved greatness!  Yes, my photos did look better, but now years later, I realize I've moved past that revelation.  Maybe my tastes have changed, or I've become more critical or discerning, but now I often think that a completely soft, nondescript background is boring and really adds nothing to the photo.  Backgrounds are an important part of the overall picture, although not as important as the main subject.  Backgrounds can be used to enhance a mood, add supporting elements to a story, add visual impact.  

There are many ways to jazz up your backgrounds, but for the next few days I'm going to talk about bokeh.  In case you don't know, those large, globes of light you often see in the backgrounds of photos are called bokeh.  They can be different sizes, shapes, intensities, depending on the type of lens you are using, the aperture, the scene itself, the lighting, the distance, etc.  Bokeh isn't for every photo but can enhance a picture when you want to create a dreamy, soft scene such as with florals, weddings, or children's portraiture, for example.  Turning Christmas lights into bokeh is another example.

The other day I was determined to take some flower photos before fall arrives.  Here in Utah, we have had a very hot, dry summer, and our flowers are starting to fade quickly.  Early in the morning I headed out to Thanksgiving Point, a beautiful garden spot close to home.  Most of the flowers and/or stems were covered with water droplets, not from dew but from their early morning sprinkler shower.  I immediately thought of water reflections, light and bokeh, and so specifically looked for compositions that would enhance a bokeh background.

For the next few days, I'll show you my 'keepers' from that morning and tell you how to create bokeh backgrounds to make your photos more visually interesting.