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06-02-2022, 08:29 PM - 1 Like   #1
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What is Bokeh and how do I get some of it?

As usual, I searched the threads first. I know I can consult Professor Google but I do like this forum and how much I am learning.

So:

Bokeh.

I know what it is, kind of, but I don't know how to achieve it, if any of my lenses/cameras can do it, and how I would tell if I even did it right?

I would like some bokeh, please.

06-02-2022, 08:50 PM - 5 Likes   #2
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Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus rendering. You essentially always have it, but pleasing bokeh is what most people want. A lot of people conflate bokeh with highly out of focus backgrounds that isolate the subject.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

Bokeh can be pleasing or harsh. Some lenses give crazy swirly bokeh. Some give creamy smooth bokeh.

Last edited by UncleVanya; 06-03-2022 at 07:52 AM.
06-02-2022, 08:52 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Bokeh is the quality of the out of focus rendering. You essentially always have it, but pleasing bokeh is what most people want. A lot of people conflate bokeh with highly out of focus background that isolate the subject.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

Bokeh can be pleasing or harsh. Some lenses give crazy swirly bokeh. Some give creamy smooth bokeh.
So it is a function of the lens and not [necessarily] just the skill of the photographer?

Last edited by madison_wi_gal; 06-02-2022 at 08:57 PM.
06-02-2022, 08:57 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Here's a couple of articles from Pentax Forums that might be worth your while to read or peruse, while you wait for responses from the many experienced (much moreso than me) members of the forum:

The Fundamentals of Exposure (see particularly Page 5: Aperture)

Image Composition Guide: Subject Isolation

06-02-2022, 09:04 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by madison_wi_gal Quote
So it is a function of the lens and not [necessarily] just the skill of the photographer?
Both are factors. The lens sets limitations and capabilities. The photographer can influence things via the type of background and the lighting and relative distances between subject and background.
06-02-2022, 09:32 PM - 3 Likes   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by madison_wi_gal Quote
As usual, I searched the threads first. I know I can consult Professor Google but I do like this forum and how much I am learning.

So:

Bokeh.

I know what it is, kind of, but I don't know how to achieve it, if any of my lenses/cameras can do it, and how I would tell if I even did it right?

I would like some bokeh, please.
Love your question!
06-02-2022, 09:33 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by madison_wi_gal Quote
So it is a function of the lens and not [necessarily] just the skill of the photographer?
Pretty much, yes. It's one of the reasons LBA starts!

06-02-2022, 09:35 PM - 3 Likes   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by madison_wi_gal Quote
I know what it is, kind of, but I don't know how to achieve it, if any of my lenses/cameras can do it, and how I would tell if I even did it right?
Do you know the very basic part of how to achieve it? the easiest way is to use a large aperture when you take your photo, so the background is very out-of-focus.

The next step is to get something interesting in the background that is out of focus so you have more of the photo showing bokeh.
06-02-2022, 09:53 PM - 1 Like   #9
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There is some skill involved in terms of controlling depth of field (DOF), and with some lenses, the quality of bokeh will be good at certain apertures while not as good at other apertures. With the really lousy bokeh from some lenses, the unpleasant busy aspect of the background can actually be distracting, drawing attention away from the subject instead of helping to make the subject stand out from it in a way that will draw attention to the subject.

You've got some high-quality lenses that are very capable in this regard. Even the DA 18-135mm DC WR lens is more than decent, and can deliver some quite good closeups, pretty surprising for a super-zoom type of lens. When using a more telephoto FL for distant shots (conversely also if getting exceptionally close up to a subject), DOF becomes more shallow just from this, which means you can get more blur of the background without needing an extremely large aperture.

Last edited by mikesbike; 06-02-2022 at 10:03 PM.
06-02-2022, 10:06 PM - 2 Likes   #10
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K or A50/1.2 wide open....

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06-02-2022, 10:51 PM - 3 Likes   #11
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Sorry I can't help. It's unclear what bokeh is, and its definition rather fuzzy. Bokeh sounds like Boken, a long wooden stick used by martial art practitioners with a focus on sword techniques.
06-03-2022, 12:11 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by madison_wi_gal Quote
As usual, I searched the threads first. I know I can consult Professor Google but I do like this forum and how much I am learning.

So:

Bokeh.

I know what it is, kind of, but I don't know how to achieve it, if any of my lenses/cameras can do it, and how I would tell if I even did it right?

I would like some bokeh, please.
If it is a smooth bokeh that you are aspiring to then this site might give you an insight.
How much blur? - A visual background blur calculator
Note the vertical axis - it is reasonable to assume that a higher percentage of an image taken by a single blur disk is going to give you a smoother bokeh.
You can post some of your own lens settings there.
And move the bottom slider to see some surprising results from different background distances from your subject.
For a smooth bokeh;
A longer focal length is probably the easiest way.
A faster lens is the next easiest.
And the resulting round iris from a wide open lens or using a lens with many iris blades (they stay looking round when stopped down) tends to enhance the smoothness of a bokeh. This is because the blur discs are circular rather than the busier hexagon , octagon etc blur disc from a stopped down lens of fewer iris blades.
06-03-2022, 01:49 AM - 2 Likes   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarkJerling Quote
Pretty much, yes. It's one of the reasons LBA starts!


I'm with Mark on this it's far too easy to be influenced by the results achieved by another photographer who used a specific lens under specific circumstances to achieve specific results the "soap bubbles" effect from a 100mm Trioplan being a classic example. Just check out the asking prices for such a lens these days!
Take the lens you've got and try it with different subjects at various distances and apertures, but probably most important, with differing distances between the subject and the background!
Find a bright highlight against a dark background and play with your aperture and focus settings to see what effects you can achieve, then use that out-of-focus result as a background with your in-focus subject appropriately framed against it.
An all-manual lens can be advantageous for this hence the risk of LBA but judicious use of the preview function on your camera can often suffice.
In my limited experience, many lenses will give "pleasant" bokeh with the out-of-focus background just at a particular distance. Too close and it's still a jumbled mass, too far and it's nothing at all.
Enjoy
06-03-2022, 02:25 AM - 2 Likes   #14
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Try this out...
Same subject, relatively close distance, aperture priority mode, different backgrounds. The more you open the diaphragm , the more you blur the background. The quality of this blurring is your bokeh (rough explanation but rather accurate). Some backgrounds will give interesting shapes (spot lights, for example) and some not so much (monotonous , low contrast, shades...). You decide if you want bokeh in a shot and what kind of it. We could pretty much say that low f-numbers will give more satisfying bokeh, but it's a matter of taste. I happen to like polygonal bokeh shapes (from lenses with 6 or 8 diaphragm blades, that is..). Experiment and make your choice. Spot lights on the background (the more the better) will make it clearer at first. Try some of those, on an evening photo walk, perhaps. Cheers.
06-03-2022, 02:34 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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I think people mainly use bokeh to refer to background blur. The biggest factor on how much background blur you have is how close you are to your subject versus the background. So, macro shots nearly always have a blurred background because you are very close to your subject in relation to what is in the background. Using a longer lens and having a wider aperture available tends to give more blur.

Looking at your list of lenses, your Tamron macro and 55-300 should give you nicely blurred background if you set up your shots right. Other lenses to consider if you want lenses with wider apertures would be the HD DA 70, DA *55, or one of the FA limiteds, as each of these has faster maximum apertures than any of the lenses I see listed on your current list.
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