The bokeh effect in photography. What is it and how to achieve it?

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The average bread eater associates blur and out-of-focus in photos with bad quality. However, for professionals it is an interesting effect that is not easy to achieve.

The bokeh effect gets its name from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means “blur” or “haze”. It is described with many adjectives: smooth, delicate, subtle, pleasant, beautiful, magical, ethereal. It can resemble a fog that obscures colored circles, droplets, snowflakes and other elements, creating a mysterious and harmonious blur effect. There is a lively discussion on many photography websites and forums about bokeh and how to achieve it.

What is the bokeh effect?

Bokeh is the effect of a soft, out-of-focus background that is achieved when shooting with a light-sensitive lens at the maximum aperture. In other words, bokeh is the intentional blurring of the background of a photo, used for artistic effect.

Bokeh is particularly visible around light sources and depends on the shape of the aperture blades. A lens with rounded blades produces rounder and softer shapes, while a lens with an aperture close to a hexagon produces sharper and more angular shapes.

The effect helps focus attention on the main subject, person or object, and enlivens the composition with an expressive background.

Efekt bokeh na zdjęciu
(Photo: Artiom Vallat / unsplash.com)

How to achieve the bokeh effect?

Instead of using Photoshop, which beginners use, professionals achieve the effect by using specific lens parameters and special caps. The right value of optics helps to achieve a blurred background without using any photo editors, which increases the quality and value of such images.

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