08 December 2011

word of the day: bokeh

I keep reading this word: bokeh. It means nothing to me and I don't even know how to pronounce it. I see that people often use it when they're praising a nature photograph ("that bokeh is stunning!")... maybe it's some kind of foliage plant? And then Darcy at my3boybarians launched a Holiday bokeh party. Hmm, okay, probably not foliage then. So, for anyone else in the dark, here's what wiki says:
In photography, bokeh is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light"... /... Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions
Okaaaay, I think I'm with you. But take it slowly, I'm a novice. Oh, and apparently, you pronounce it either like a "bow-kay" of flowers or like a questionable Scottish heave (a boke eh?).

So I got my camera out yesterday to try and learn about bokeh. My aim was to try and make some appropriately tropical Christmas pictures if possible. I tried for some bokeh caused (at least in part) by the brightness of the sun (as opposed to lights/candles), and I also aimed to capture some uniquely contrasting hot weather aspects of Christmas (eg strelizia against shopping mall window backdrop... still working on that one). After more than 100 weird attempts, I think I got some bokeh.

my coffee table: long-distance cards and sun-bathing baubles
ice creams all round while out to see the Christmas lights - not a scarf or a mince pie in sight

So there you go, new word for the day: bokeh. I'm going to have to keep working on it (obviously!).

And if like me, you're totally clueless, I've distilled some of the tutorials I've read into the following:
  • set your aperture as wide open as it'll go
  • focus on a relatively close up object
  • make sure there's something all a-sparkle and a-glitter in the distance
  • repeat at least a hundred times on random varying settings to see what comes out nice
  • acknowledge that it's likely much more complicated than this to get a great shot, but accept that it'll do for now, and friendly peeps might leave me more hints and tips below...
Go over to Darcy's amazing website on December the 8th to see how the real pros do holiday bokeh - I just know it's going to be STUNNING.
holiday lights bokeh party my3boybarians.com


  1. Looks like you did it to me!

  2. and now we know... beautifully executed!

  3. The cards and the ornaments is great composition and pretty bokeh! I love the designs the bokeh makes in the second one! Nicely done!

  4. The 1st shot is really great.. great bokeh!!

  5. Very cool - I don't know much about bokeh, but it looks like you got it :)

    Love the second shot particularly :)

  6. Looks great!! I like the idea of sparkly in the background :)

  7. I like the bokeh. Good way to describe photos or wine!
    Can't believe you are having ice cream when you go to see the Christmas lights. Crazy.
    I'm in the middle of planning what to wear to work Christmas party. Have pretty dress (with slip and vest underneath of course), humungously thick black tights, massive woollen cardigan, big coat, scarf, gloves, hat, big cosy boots - just to decide whether to stick with the boots or to carry little high heels with me to change into once I have negotiated the ice rink car park? We're in different worlds!

  8. Aah, learned something new today. Lovely bokeh!

  9. i was so much like you! i took about 50+ pictures changing the settings on my camera for each one. a ton of fun to experiment this technique. i love your photos!


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