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What The F-stop Is Bokeh?

In a blog post I wrote yesterday I mentioned "bokeh" as one of the Five Key Elements To Sexy Product Photography. It got me thinking, "What is bokeh, anyway?"

In this blog I'll go over the basic definition, how to get bokeh, and when to shoot for bokeh and not shoot for bokeh. Plus, let's all see how many times I actually write bokeh in this blog lol.

BOKEH - A desired blurry effect in photography, or shallow depth of field.

Confession, I just made that definition up based on how I understand it. This is what wiki says - "Bokeh is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh has been defined as the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light."

Whoever wrote that sounds smarter than me.

In short, we know that bokeh is blur.

Below is an example of two shots (with camera settings below) I took with the same camera and lens only adjusting the f-stop and the shutter speed. I had to adjust the shutter speed to make up for the narrow window of light coming in.

I keep my favorite plant on my desk :)

The "F" in F-stop stands for focal stop. If you'd like a more rounded teaching on what the numbers mean regarding f-stop check out this teaching.


When do I want bokeh and when don't I?

I'm glad you asked, little voice in my head. Typically portrait shots will have an aperture range between 1.8 and 4 (strong bokeh). You can go even more shallow with 1.2 and 1.4 but those lenses tend to cost more and will produce an image so shallow parts of the human face will be out of focus.

Also, be forewarned. I shot a wedding where I wished I hadn't been so bokeh greedy. If you ever shoot a group of people be mindful to make sure they are all in focus. You can edit just about every other element of a photo except the clarity.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on Bokeh.

Let me know what you think :)



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