Skill Builder: Bokeh Photography Effect

Photography & Video

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Bokeh” comes from the Japanese word for “blur” or “haze.” It’s used to describe the quality of the out of focus areas of a photograph. If you’ve ever read a photography forum, you’ll know that the word is often used to describe how a particular lens handles out of focus points of light. You can even hear bokeh being classified as silky, Hollywood-style, or cream cheese-like (honestly!).

When a point of light in a photograph is out of focus, it turns into a shape defined by the lens’s aperture. We can create a second, smaller, aperture to attach to the front of our lens in order to customize that shape. The result is a charming effect in the background of your photographs, as long as there points of light such as streetlights, candles, or Christmas lights in frame. In MAKE Volume 26 and on Make: Projects, Sindri Diego walks you through the process of making photographs with this neat effect.

If you need a little inspiration, there’s no shortage of great ideas out there for how to use this in your photography. And if you try out this project, post your best photographs to the MAKE Flickr pool.

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

8 thoughts on “Skill Builder: Bokeh Photography Effect

  1. 影月 says:

    The extra H at the end is an improper romanization. According to common romanization rules the word 「暈け」 would be “Boke”.

    1. Matt Richardson says:

      You can blame photography writer Mike Johnston for that:”I decided that people too readily mispronounced ‘boke,’ so I added an ‘h’ to the word in our articles, and voilá, ‘bokeh’ was born. A Google search for the word ‘bokeh’ just now resulted in approximately 13,300 hits. Seems the idea’s gotten around.”Source: (via Wikipedia)

  2. 影月 says:

    The extra H at the end is an improper romanization. According to common romanization rules the word 「暈け」 would be “Boke”.

  3. jakob says:

    super effeck and trick photography

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

View more articles by Matt Richardson


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