2013 Challenge, Week 51: Bokeh

Last week we got to focus on light and try out light painting. This week we’ll feature light and the effects of the aperture, but the emphasis will be on the out-of-focus area of the picture. This week’s theme is Bokeh.

Bokeh is a Japanese word that refers to the blur-quality of a lens or photograph. It’s most noticeable in night shots where lights are out-of-focus, but any shot with a short depth-of-field will have areas where you see the bokeh, especially if light is coming through the background.

“Bokeh Overlord” by Patrik B

Bokeh doesn’t just refer to blur, it’s the quality of the blur, and that quality changes from lens to lens. There are plenty of examples of bokeh around the Internet. If you want to learn a little more about it, Nikon has a good article with nice examples. And there’s always Wikipedia.

“Bokeh Effect” by Andrew Abogado

One of the reasons I choose Bokeh as the theme for this week is because there are plenty of Christmas lights around at night to use as subjects.  You can start indoors…

“Bokeh Ninja” by Nick Harris

Then move outside.

“bokeh” by Janne Hellsten
“Bokeh Season” by Alejandro C

If you do choose to shoot at night, be sure to grab a tripod. During the day you can get great bokeh shots without a tripod, but at night with the slow shutter speeds, a tripod is essential.

You can even get creative and create custom bokehs with stencils. The shape of the aperture is what determines the bokeh shape, so if you put a stencil on your lens, your bokeh with be the same shape. This example uses a heart shaped stencil and results in a heart shaped bokeh.

“Shaped Bokeh Test” by Gianmaria Veronese

As an extra challenge, see if you can come up with a custom bokeh by creating your own stencils. If you’re not the DIY type, Bokeh Masters has few kits available. With Christmas this week, you might not be able to get one shipped in time for this week’s challenge, but it would be a good investment for future use.

As always, post your shots on Facebook, Google+, or Flickr. Happy shooting!

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