When I started my journey in photography, I thought bokeh (pronounced BOH-kay) referred to the beautiful blurred spheres of light present in some outdoor photos. While images with bokeh may have these lovely spheres, bokeh is the soft, out of focus background that is visible in the image. I love this creative style! If you do too, I can show you how to create a beautiful bokeh background in your garden photos.
Creating garden images with pleasing bokeh is simpler than you may think. You can produce the effect of an out of focus background by doing a few things. One thing you can do is shoot with a wide aperture, at least f/2.8 or wider (i.e. f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4). You can control aperture size by shooting in manual mode or aperture priority mode. Check your lenses to see which one can shoot the widest. FYI – a lens with a wide maximum aperture is also referred to as a fast lens. A small f-stop is what makes these lenses fast. Most often, prime lenses shoot faster than zoom lenses. I shot the photo above with my 50mm prime at f/1.8.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a fast lens in your camera bag. You can still achieve the quality of blur you want by simply repositioning yourself and/or your subject. If you can move your subject (i.e. a container of flowers), create some distance between it and the background. You, on the other hand, need to be close to your subject. The farther the subject is away from background elements, and the closer you are to the subject – the more of out focus the background will be. So regardless of the lens you have, moving things around a bit can create bokeh in your image.
Soft spheres of light are visible when the background is backlit with indirect light. I capture the best circles of light when I shoot in the morning just as the sun is rising above the trees far behind my house.
Give these tips a shot and add a soft, blurred background to your next image.
Peace and zen,