woman holding fireflies
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on

What is Bokeh?

I don’t know if this is a new fad in photography, but, it seems to be a very popular item lately. Take a look at the photo above. See in the background and the foreground, those out of focus lights that look like “blurry lights” ? That is the Bokeh! And it can add a lot of interest to your photos.

Just to clarify, I have found a photo that has Bokeh in it, and circled those lights that give us the “bokeh” effect. They are circled in yellow:

I went to my usual photo collection sites, and typed in “Bokeh” and got a ton of photos like this:

yellow bokeh photo
Photo by on

That kind of photo is not something I like a lot. I just wouldn’t hang that on the wall. I like them in the background of the main subject, something like this:

close up photo of mushrooms
Photo by Visually Us on – See the blue “Bokeh” in the background?

If you want to put Bokeh in your photos, you will need to do the following:


Bokeh starts with lens choice. Go for a lens with a wide maximum aperture (ideally, f/2.8 or wider, but f/4 can work, too).

If possible, pick a lens with a high number of aperture blades (remember: the more circular the aperture shape, the better!).

And go with a standard or telephoto focal length, not wide angle.


Bokeh is only affected by one camera setting: the aperture. So make it count!

For the strongest bokeh effect, dial in your lens’s lowest f-number. (Though if your lens goes to f/1.2 or f/1.4 and you’re shooting from up close, you may want to narrow the aperture just a bit to prevent your subject from going out of focus.)

If you’re not sure how to adjust the aperture, by the way, consult your camera manual. You’ll generally need to shift the mode dial to manual mode or Aperture priority mode, then rotate the corresponding aperture dial until it gives you the result you want (though some lenses offer an aperture ring on the barrel, which you can turn to manually set the aperture).

selective focus photography of light bulbs
Photo by Tim Gouw on


Determine the subject you want to photograph, then get close. Remember, you can either move close physically, or you can use a long lens for a tighter perspective.

If you have the time, try both; the effect will be slightly different in each case (longer lenses compress the background, which gives smooth bokeh, but you may lose a bit of intimacy), and you may find you prefer one look over the other.

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If you can move your subject (or, in the case of portraits, if you can ask your subject to move), then put them in front of a uniform, non-distracting background.

And bring them far away from the background, so the bokeh effect is more pronounced.

If you can’t move your subject, then try to adjust your perspective. By getting down low, you can remove distracting background details from the frame; by moving to the side, you can increase subject-background distance; and so on.

beige a freestanding letter decor
Photo by Arun Kumar on


At this point, you’ve done everything you can for the best-possible bokeh.

So determine the remaining settings you need for a good exposure (e.g., your shutter speed and your ISO). Focus on your subject. Check one last time to ensure the background doesn’t include any distractions.

And take your photo!

After you capture a shot or two, check your camera’s LCD. Pay careful attention to the quality of the background. Ask yourself: How does the bokeh look? Is there anything I can change to make it better?

person pouring wine on glass
Photo by Nicole Michalou on


This is a wonderful thing to try if you haven’t yet. If you are doing it for a customer, or even yourself, you will find you will love the effect. Good luck!


Photo by Colby Thomas on Unsplash

We still have a few months left of winter in the northern half of the world. And when I take a look at all the submitted photos online, I keep wondering why people would post those photos. A reminder that snow is white, not grey. So, how do we get beautiful, amazing white snow winter photos? We will go through that step by step.


Photo by John Price on Unsplash

The camera system has a hard time with just white scenery. The best exposure and autofocus situation will be best when there is some contrast to the image. Notice with this above photo, the contrast between snow and the leaves and branches. Good contrast, and the snow came out white! (White snow makes me happy!)

In most cases though, you don’t have that big of desire to have all your photos to be close-ups of snow on trees.


You’ll need to dial in one or two stops of positive exposure compensation. Due to the quirks of its meter, your camera will try to make the snow look gray. Exposure compensation will counteract the meter to keep things bright.

Note: If you’re shooting in Manual mode, you can simply decrease the shutter speed by a stop or two to achieve the same result.


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Photo by Lanny Cottrell – Image lightened and contrast added through “lightroom”

One thing to understand, that I have found, no matter how hard you try with your camera, getting it perfect, getting the snow to look white, and the other trees, mountains to have nice rich color may require some work on “lightroom” to get it right. I absolutely love how my winter photos have turned out since I have used “lightroom”.


Photo by Lanny Cottrell -Editor of 123Photogo
Facebook photo of Orem, Utah with Mount Tipanogos in the background after a snowfall.

There is something really magical about taking your winter photos right after a snowfall. The snow hasn’t had time to settle, everything is covered in snow, and the beauty of winter is amazing just then. As they say, sometimes in photography, the best photos come from just having good timing.


Photo by Steven Wright on Unsplash

Taking pictures while it is snowing shows that you will do anything to get the “perfect photo”. It takes some fortitude to go out during the snowstorm, but, the pictures are real. As you do this, make sure you use a somewhat fast shutter speed to get your snow to stop in mid-air. If you can’t get a fast enough shutter speed, raise your ISO up higher to be able to make those changes.

bare trees on snow covered landscape
Photo by Pixabay on


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Oh yeah, the batteries go weak when they get cold. If you are planning on going out for an extended time, make sure you have some extra batteries. And keep your batteries in your pocket as much as possible when you are not using the camera, or put your spare batteries in your pocket, and alternate them.


Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Winter storms create amazing photos that you can’t get any other time. Try different angles, perspectives of what is amazing about the storm. You will capture photos that a lot of people miss.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash


Winter is an amazing time to take photos. Be brave and go out and take a few photos. The winter scenes are always amazing, and you can get photos that not many people capture.

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time lapse photography of vehicle tail lights
Photo by Nikolett Emmert on
Another article on: “Something you can’t do with a cell phone”

If you want to be a serious photographer, this is another series of why you should have a “real camera” instead of doing all your photography with your cell phone.

Controlling your shutter speed on your camera is there for you to seriously give you the control to create something beautiful and exciting. The photo above, for example, is just one great photo that was done by having control of your shutter speed. Simply done by putting your camera on a tripod, and then having your shutter speed set so that the lights on the road become a blur or a long string of color. Judging from how long the lights are streaking there, I would say that shutter speed was around 6 to 10 seconds long. Can your camera do that?


Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash

One of everyone’s favorite things to do when setting the shutter speed slow is to take a photo of a waterfall. When it is slow it just blurs the water and gives it a dream effect. If someone is in the photo, yes, they will be a blur as well. But, that kind of acts as an effect most people will like with this photo.

The “B” setting on your camera stands for “Bulb”. And back many years ago, the photographer would have his camera set on the tripod, and then use a “bulb-type” plunger that you would screw into the camera’s button. This is where the “B” came from. You can still use a remote trigger on your camera, but, it may not be a “bulb”, but, a “cable release” or even use your self timer, so you don’t touch the camera during a long exposure.


Photo by Michael Constantin P. on Unsplash

Is there something wrong with this helicopter? No, this photographer used a very fast shutter speed, like 1/1000 or 1/2000 of a second to be able to stop the helicopter blades from showing any motion. Totally freezes anything that moves when you use a fast shutter speed.

Here is another photo showing fast shutter speeds:

Photo by Max Frajer on Unsplash

Of course, changing your shutter speeds, may involve you changing your ISO setting as we mentioned in the previous blog. And your aperture setting may change as well. All 3 of these settings have to work together. You will just need to know what type of effect you are after in order to use the right settings, or making the decision what setting is most important with the type of photo you want to take.

On the next blog, we will go over the results of changing your aperture setting on your camera. What will you create using different aperture settings? See ya then!


long exposure photo
17mm, 30 seconds @ f/11, ISO 800
Article by Andrew Gibson :

The purchase of a nine stop neutral density filter two years ago changed my approach to landscape photography. It allowed me to take photos using shutter speeds of one minute or longer and gave me a new way of photographing the sea (I live on the coast at the bottom of New Zealand’s North Island).

Reasons to Try Long Exposure Photography:

1. Long exposure photography is easy. It’s a very simple and pure genre of photography. It’s just you, the camera, a wide-angle lens, and a tripod. The success of the shoot comes down to the drama of the landscape and your eye for light and composition. If you shoot at dusk, a neutral density filter isn’t required as the low light will let you use shutter speeds of 30 seconds or longer.

landscape exposure
40mm, 201 seconds @ f/13, ISO 200

2. Longer exposures help you appreciate the beauty of the landscape. One of the things I like about it is the natural slowness of the process. It gives me time to slow down and enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the light.

3. No reciprocity failure. Long exposure photography has become popular since the rise of digital cameras. The instant feedback of the LCD screen, plus the lack of reciprocity failure take the guess work out of exposure, leaving the photographer to concentrate on light and composition.

light trails with long shutter speeds
17mm, 6 seconds @ f/5.6, ISO 400

4. If you have a nine or ten stop neutral density filter, you can take photos during the middle of the day during overcast conditions that traditionally are not considered suitable for landscape photography. Neutral density filters give you a new way of taking landscape photos, and extend the time in which you can create beautiful images way beyond the golden hour.

nd filter picture
23mm, 30 seconds @ f/14.5, ISO 400

5. Long exposure photography appeals to photographers who work in black or white or see themselves as fine art photographers. The simple style and composition of the best long exposure photos lends itself to the fine art approach.

6. Long exposure photos are a new way of looking at the landscape. When a non-photographer sees a long exposure photo, they know that they can’t get the same result themselves on their compact cameras or smart phones.

A special thanks to Andrew Gibson and Picture Correct for sharing this article.

This article today is one of a new series of these types of subjects: SOMETHING YOU CAN ONLY DO WITH AN SLR CAMERA. We want the world to know that this type of photography is something you cannot do with your cell phone. If you want to try photography and really make a good point of why you chose SLR photography, then this series of articles will show that you can only take these kind of amazing photos with a “real camera”.