If you want your images to have rich bokeh, you’ll need to create a shallow depth of field. In this video from B&H, David Flores shows you seven ways to achieve that smooth, creamy bokeh.
1. Create distance
Create some distance between the subject and the background. The greater the distance, the greater the differentiation between the subject and the background that’s out of focus.
2. Wide aperture
Another way to add more bokeh to your images is to use a wide aperture. Larger apertures will give you a smaller depth of field, and creating more bokeh.
3. Use the right lens
As previously mentioned – larger apertures will give you a shallower depth of field. Thus, use lenses that allow you to open the aperture up to f/1.8, f/1.4 or even f/1.2. Consider buying vintage lenses – some of them have a wide aperture and very unique bokeh, yet they’re affordable.
Other than the maximum aperture, consider the focal length of the lens. Wide-angle lenses are useful for some situations. However, longer lenses create compression, which adds a better separation of the subject from the background.
4. Sensor size
The general rule when it comes to bokeh and sensor size is: “the bigger, the better.” On this link, you can see the comparison in bokeh between a crop, a full frame, and a large format sensor.
However, if you own a crop body, worry not. There are other ways to achieve that creamy bokeh, so you don’t have to upgrade to more expensive gear.
Choose a background that will make bokeh look more interesting. Lights are always a good choice, and since the holiday season isn’t over yet, use those Christmas lights as a background. During the day, foliage also creates nice bokeh.
6. Don’t forget the foreground
Shallow depth of field isn’t only about blurring out the background. You can add some depth to your images with front bokeh, too.
7. Get closer to your subject
Finally, while your subject should be further away from the background, you can try and get closer to them. This way you’ll accentuate the details of the subject.
Finally, David gives some bonus tips to help you choose the best lens and get the bokeh quality you want. If you want a “harsher” look, select the lens with fewer aperture blades. If you’re going for softer, rounder bokeh balls, get a lens with more aperture blades. And for the softest, creamiest bokeh, you can go with an apodization lens.
Depending on the image, bokeh will sometimes work, and sometimes it won’t. But for the situations when you want to achieve it, follow the guidelines above and your images will surely have rich and smooth bokeh.
[Top 7 Ways to Create Buttery Bokeh | B&H Photo Video]