Creating images with a pleasing, creamy background (aka bokeh) helps you – as the photographer – set the mood for your photos. I like to create images that invoke feelings of calmness and serenity. Being in the garden and behind the lens is how I find my zen. Shooting images with a zen vibe is my personal photography style. If you aren’t quite sure what your style is – no worries. The more you shoot and explore your images, the more likely you are to develop a style that you love. For now, let’s delve into creating images with bokeh – you might just find it’s your zen too!
Most often, I shoot in my own backyard. When I have time, I love to visit other gardens. But with a full time job, a family, and a busy life – finding time to visit another garden only happens once or twice a week….. at best. So I have learned to create any image I want, right in my own garden. So no matter how big or small your garden is, learn to shoot the garden you have in every possible light and angle. With that in mind, here’s what you need to create images with beautiful bokeh.
1. Prime lens with a wide aperture
A prime lens is a lens with one focal length (i.e. 35mm, 50mm, 85mm). These lenses are not telephoto or zoom lens. If you want to zoom in or out, you have to move your body. The lens should be capable of a wide aperture (small f-stop) to achieve a shallow depth of field. A lens with a minimum aperture of f/1.4 or f/1.8 is considered a fast lens and is ideal to create stunning bokeh.
2. Less distance between you and your subject; greater distance between your subject and the background
Move in close to your subject and manually focus on the area you want to appear sharp. The more distance you can put between your subject and the background, the better quality bokeh you’ll get. Pay attention to colors in the background as they will affect the mood of the image.
And that’s bokeh – simplified!
Just for fun, I’m sharing a few pullbacks from the shoot above to show how you can create a lovely image right in your own backyard – whether it’s a yard, patio or balcony.
Peace and zen,