Archive for September, 2011

September 6, 2011

Beautiful Bokeh!

Sorry for being so quiet lately, it’s been a super busy summer, and I’m sure to have lots of sessions and weddings to post when things calm down! In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do a little informational post about bokeh and depth of field! For those of you who don’t know what bokeh is, it’s the blurred points of light that you sometimes see in the background of photos. According to Wikipedia, “Bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” My main purpose of this post is to show you a fun idea that you can try at home with just a string of Christmas lights, a subject and a camera. It also happens to be a great way to demonstrate how to capture beautiful bokeh! Let’s get started! I had an engagement shoot on Sunday, and I had this idea in my head that I wanted to try. Since I’ve been studying how the light has been falling in our backyard throughout the day, I knew where I could set up my lights so we’d be in the shade at 4:30. First, I tried stringing the lights in the bushes, but later decided that I wanted to try to tape them to my background stand. I used gaffer tape and it worked well and it didn’t leave any sticky residue on my stand when I took it off. I also decided to hang an old window for this particular shot. The lights were strung in front of the bushes just so they would pop a little off the dark background. Here is what it looked like when I was finished: Note: I used the Canon 50mm 1.2 lens and I set my aperture to 1.2 for all of the images in this post. For those of you who don’t know what aperture is, it is basically the size of the hole that the light goes through when it passes through the lens. Next, I wanted to test to make sure everything looked ok. I didn’t change any settings on my camera. I aimed my camera down at my feet, set my focus, and recomposed my shot back at the lights. I was careful not to re-focus once I was viewing the lights, and I snapped a photo. Here’s what it looked like: As you can see, everything is blurred, because when I set my focus, it was aimed at my feet, which is a lot closer distance than it was to the lights. I find that I get better bokeh when I have a shorter distance between my camera and the subject in the foreground, and a greater distance between the subject in the foreground and the lights in the background. I know, it’s a lot to remember. But I’m hoping once you play around with it, it will make better sense! Ok, so my clients arrived, and I took two shots. Actually, I took a lot more than that, but I am only going to show you two for now. The subjects stayed in the same spot for both shots. Since I was using a fixed lens, I moved closer for the second shot. I kept my aperture set at 1.2 (wide open), and focused on the subjects eyes, making the background blurred. Do you notice a difference? It’s similar to what I did between the first and second image when I focused on my feet. The bokeh (and general background blur) is much more apparent in the last picture, and since the couple didn’t move and I didn’t change any settings on my camera, the only reason for it would be because I moved closer. I could have – and should have – moved the subjects further from the lights in the background, to create even more blur, so you wouldn’t even see the strings of lights. I hope that helps explain how to get some beautiful blurred lights in the background of your photos! This is a great idea for holiday photos, too! I’d love any feedback that you might have, and please feel free to share this with your friends! And share some of your beautiful bokeh on my facebook page! Enjoy!
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