Tutorial Tuesday – Bokeh (Bookey? Bowkuh?)

Bokeh (pronounced bow-ke (like the beginning of the word “kettle”)) is a fun photography term that refers to the out of focus parts of a photograph. It’s defined on wikipedia as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.” It comes from the Japanese word “boke,” which means blur or haze.

An example of bokeh using Christmas lights. The out of focus points of light emulate the shape of your aperture, creating bokeh.

Bokeh is created with a shallow depth of field, when the aperture is open wide (remember, the lower the f/stop number, the wider the aperture), so that your subject is in focus but the background (or foreground, or both) is out of focus. Bokeh is created when the lighted points of your out of focus background start to turn into little circles (emulating the shape of the aperture).

See how the out of focus background has turned into lots of little circles? Bokeh!

You can create bokeh at home too! You need three things in order to create images with good bokeh.

You need a camera that you can change the aperture on, that you can drop down to the smallest number possible (shallowest depth of field).

You also need your subject to be closer to your camera that it is to the background. The farther your subject is from your background, the more pronounced your bokeh will be.


You need a background that isn’t a solid color, and it needs to have some light in it, as it is the points of light that actually make bokeh possible. If your background is dark and monotone, you won’t be able to see the bokeh effect. In this photo, the bokeh is really pronounced, as the sun hits the trees in the background.

Try it! Take some photos and try to recreate bokeh in your images, and then post your favorite to my Facebook wall.



Don’t forget to contact me to grab your Holiday Special session spot – space is limited!

Remember that if you donate to the Red Cross in the month of November, provide your receipt at your session and I’ll take that amount off your session price! Contact me to set up your session, so that we can capture your holiday traditions!