Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos and Changing Your Depth of Field

Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos

Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos and Changing Your Depth of Field

One of my most favorite type of photos to take is a bokeh shot.  I love the light, the bokeh circles and how much fun you can have with those types of photos. How the urge to take these photos get me to look for light and find new subjects to take pictures of.

If you don’t know what bokeh is, it is a Japanese word that means, “the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens.” Or in other words, it’s a photo where you have a subject in focus and a background out of focus with good light in the back ground.

Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos and Changing Your Depth of Field

As you can see in this photo, the strawberry flower and leaf is in focus while the background and even the foreground is out of focus. You can see “bokeh” circles in the areas that are not in focus. This is a very popular thing to do to photos. Even Instagram has a feature where you can make part of your photo in focus while the rest is not. You can also add bokeh circles when you are editing your photos.

The great thing about using a DSLR camera is that you can easily do this just by changing your settings.

You will be playing around with the aperture settings. You will want to change your f-stop based on the type of photo you want to make. Larger apertures mean a smaller f-stop number. The smaller the f-stop, the less of your photo will be in focus. If you are planning on taking a photo of a group of people, you would want to use a smaller aperture. You wouldn’t only want one or two people to be in focus. The same goes for a landscape. When I am taking a landscape photos my f-stop is at least at 5.6 or even higher depending what the photo is of.

The larger the aperture, the more light you are letting in, the shallower the depth of field. The smaller the aperture, the less light you are letting in and the wider the depth of field.

I decided to take some photos of my growing strawberry plants to show you the difference. I used my Canon 50D with my Canon 85mm 1.8 lens. It is one of my favorite lenses.

I put my ISO at 100 because it was pretty sunny out. My lens was on 65mm for each of these shots too.

Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos and Changing Your Depth of Field

This first shot has the shallowest depth of field. I shot this with f/2.8 and shutter speed 1/1000. As you can see most of everything is out of focus except for the strawberry in the front. I also made sure the light was in the right spot so that I could get bokeh circles.

Bokeh CirclesThis photo was done at f/4.0 and shutter speed 1/500.

Bokeh photosThis one was taken at f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/250.


IMG_0066This one was at f/8.0 and SS 1/125.

bokeh depth of field

And this one is f/11 and 1/60 which is a little slow but it worked because of the light. As you can see there is more in focus in this photo then in any of the others.

When you are trying to decide what to shoot your photo at, you can play around with the settings. You might not like what the photo looks like when you use the largest aperture. This is why practice is so important.

The best thing to do is take your camera out everyday and take pictures of everything. This can be your children’s toys, your children, your plants, your home, etc. You can go on a photo walk or stay around your house. By taking photos every single day you will start to understand how your camera works and what it means to use different settings.


Bokeh photos


If you still haven’t taken your camera off manual, I encourage you to do so. You can do so much more with it and get pictures looking the way that you want. There are a lot of photography books out there to help get you started. One thing you can do is go to the library or a book store and look through what they have. See if anything jumps out at you.  I would recommend starting with Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. He really breaks everything down in a great way!

So now it is time to get out there and start using your camera. It is way too easy to just stay with your phone cameras but there is a whole world out there that is digital photography that you want to explore.


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2 thoughts on “Simple Guide to Bokeh Photos and Changing Your Depth of Field”

  1. What an awesome post! It’s easier for all of my readers to see that I’m struggling big time with figuring out my DSRL, but I’m getting there. I have a 50mm lens and I really don’t like it! I heard so many good things about it, but I can’t stand how automatically zoomed it is. Time to save big bucks for a better one! Thanks for taking the time to put this post together. It’s helpful!

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