Photo by Francesco Tommasini on Unsplash

“Bokeh”! What is this new word? Take a look at the photo above, and notice all the little round lighted circles behind the subject. Those circles are “Bokeh”, and have become popular in photos lately because they make the subject stand out from the background in a very beautiful way.

Taken from a Japanese word for “blur,” bokeh has become a photography jargon used to describe how a lens renders a background that’s out of focus. As I was looking for a great photo showing Bokeh, I was surprised how many people just love Bokeh, without any foreground subject. Just like this:

yellow bokeh photo
Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

To me, a photo like this is not something I would hang up on the wall, but, might be used as a background to something else I want to create. However, if you search for Bokeh, on Google, you will get photos of pretty little circles, like shown above.

Now, if you would like to use more Bokeh in your photos, then follow these steps: They can only be created a certain way:


The reason why some people get frustrated with bokeh is that they’re probably using the wrong lens. The secret to getting beautiful bokeh is using a lens that has an aperture of at least f/2.8. Unfortunately, the maximum aperture of a typical kit lens (the lens often found on entry-level cameras) only goes as low as f/4.5 or f/3.5. Although it’s more or less just two f-stops away from the ideal aperture, it’s still not wide enough to provide the background blur essential for bokeh.

green grass with bokeh lights
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Take a look at your lenses and see if you have a lens that will do this. If you got a kit lens, chances are you don’t have a lens that will open to f2.8 or lower. So, check all your lenses. A standard lens, with no zoom, is relatively inexpensive, and will generally go to f1.8, which is perfect for creating this effect.

Check out your aperture blades:

Photo by Wan San Yip on Unsplash

When choosing the ideal bokeh lens, also consider looking at aperture blades. The way they shape the aperture’s opening affects how the patterns in the background look. For instance, a lens with 9 blades creates a rounder aperture, making light sources appear circular and more natural-looking. On the other hand, a lens that has fewer blades (about 5 or 7) produces polygon-shaped orbs that look less desirable.


The important thing to remember in creating the “bokeh” effect, is that you need to use a very wide aperture setting. F2.8 or bigger (or smaller number, like 1.8) will be the only way this works. If you want to go manual mode, that is fine, but, just make sure your aperture is set to the lower number.


To achieve bokeh, choosing the right background is crucial. Although it’s easy to blur a part of the scene with your lens, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee your image will have good bokeh.

Plain backgrounds don’t make good bokeh because there’s just nothing much going on visually. If you look at beautiful bokeh shots, you’ll notice that even with a blurry background, particular elements like light orbs or soft textures and patterns appear prominently in the image.

The perfect places to get bokeh is usually from urban locations. There, you usually have some kind of soft lights in the background that just make it nice.

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Light reflecting on bodies of water such as ponds and lakes creates captivating bokeh effects as well.

Look for lights behind a possible portrait. This is truly a wonderful effect with bokeh, if everything is in it’s place. It just seems to give a dreamy effect.

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur on Unsplash


Look for lights in the background when taking portraits. Or anything else that has a high reflective light coming from it, and see if you can enjoy getting some good “bokeh” photos.

Thought for the day:

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Robert Capa


Published by 123photogo

I have been a photographer for many years. Worked in retail selling cameras and accessories for over 20 years. Taught many photo classes, and have even been a judge in several county fairs. Now, I want to share photo instructions and entertainment with all other photographers around the world.

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