How to take better photos by using the Bokeh effect.

Depth of field is the range of distance or area that appears sharp. It occurs as a gradual transition increasing or decreasing the sharpness with which subjects or elements appear in an image.

Bokeh is a Japanese term that means “haze” or “blur”, it is used to designate the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of a photographic image. It is also one of the trendiest effects in photography. So, a nice Bokeh is a very blurred background where the lines and the contour of the shapes totally disappear.

We’re sharing 5 videos for you to learn how to get a nice Bokeh effect in-camera and of-camera (using Photoshop).

If you like this article find more tips on the AGORA Review, such as: 5 Vlogs to improve your photography or 6 tutorials to improve your skills.

Cover photo by @carras.


Notice how the depth of field makes the flowers in the back gradually become so out-of-focus that they almost cannot be recognizable as flowers, just as rounded blurry bubbles. In this picture, it helps to create an atmosphere, as well as isolating and focusing all the attention on the main subject, the girl in the center of the image. Photo by @aresmahol.

Different uses of depth of field:

  1. A shallow depth of field allows the subject to pop-out from the background.
  2. It gives a sense of three dimensional depth and volume.
  3. It draws the attention to a specific area establishing reading priorities.
  4. It gives the image an atmosphere.

It varies depending on:

  1. Aperture: The bigger the Aperture, the smaller the f stop, the result will be a shallower Depth of field, that will separate the subject from the background. For example, an f/1.4 may produce a more blurred background. On the other hand, with bigger f stops we get the optimal aperture for front-to-back sharpness, within f/7.1 to f/13.
  2. Focusing distance: The larger the focal length, the shallower the depth of field. So a 200mm lens, may produce a shallower depth of field (more blurred background) than a 50mm lens.
    Distance: The closer the subject is to the camera, the shallower the depth of field. So, if you want your subject to stand out from the background, get him or her closer to the camera and away from the background, whether it is a wall or part of the landscape.
  3. Type of lens: Lenses with larger maximum apertures around f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8 are the best for getting shallower depth of field or blurry backgrounds.

Here are some videos with useful tips to achieve a nice Bokeh effect:


Gavin Hoey has all the basic info you need to create bokeh and control it in camera. He then goes on to set up a really simple shot with a household light bulb, before perfecting it in Photoshop.

Once you’ve mastered the basics of shooting great bokeh with your camera, you’re ready to move up a gear and that’s exactly what photographer Gavin Hoey does in the “how to” video. Gavin has three great tips for adding flash, increasing the amount of bokeh and changing the shape of the bokeh pattern in camera. He then jumps over to Photoshop for a quick bit of editing to perfect the final image.

3 Ways to get that sweet Bokeh (shallow depth of field) effect.

Matti Haapoja

Great tips for getting nice a Bokeh effect with a drone, with nature as a background.

18-55mm kit lens – Bokeh on a budget.

Matt Granger 

55-200 is too easy? Here a some pleasing blur with the 18-55mm. Stop using ‘poor’ gear as an excuse not to try – get your gear out and shoot! Use it to its full potential – whatever it is!

Creating artificial Bokeh in the “lab”.

PHLEARN  (Aaron Nace)

Aaron Nace shares this Photoshop tutorial to show you how to add a Bokeh effect in photoshop. To create the effect in camera, shoot with a shallow depth of field by opening up your aperture. The wider your aperture, the softer your background (and any lights in it) will be.

So let’s remember the Bokeh basics:

    1. Get as close as possible and focus on the subject.
    1. Keep as far away from the background to make it out-of-focus.
  1. Maintain your aperture wide open to get a shallower depth of field (the best results come from lenses with wider apertures which provides softer background).

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Do you like the Bokeh effect? Has this post helped you understand how to create this effect in your photos?