Create Beautiful Bokeh in Macro

     Bokeh is one of my favorite qualities in a photograph, especially macro photography.  It can highlight, create depth and enhance aesthetics.  It is as important as the focal point of the photograph because it can make your image go from good to beautiful.  Creating bokeh is simple and you do not need fancy equipment.  Here are some easy tips on creating beautiful bokeh in macro photography.

Choosing the Tools and Settings

    Bokeh is the blurred areas of the photograph and it is achieved by manipulating the depth of field.  It is traditionally created with a large aperture lens, but you can get a similar effects with a phone or slower lens.  If you choose to use your phone, make sure you know how to use the cameras selective focus setting and/or manual settings.
     The faster the lens, f/2.8 or larger, will result in higher quality and more appealing look. A slower lens might create a less attractive, jagged bokeh.  If you are using a slower lens you can get smooth bokeh by increasing your distance from your subject.  If using a phone, lenses are available but are not recommended, they often create an unappealing look and you are better off using selective focus, and distancing yourself from the subject. 

     Set your camera or phone in aperture priority (AP) mode, if you are unable to control the settings in your phone use selective focus.  AP allows your camera to open up the aperture to the widest setting (the lowest number, i.e f/2.8) and not have to worry about the shutter speed.  Your camera will choose the appropriate shutter speed setting for you.  Of course, if you prefer manual mode, go for it, but avoid going completely auto.  You want to have control over your aperture setting because this is what will create the amount of Bokeh in your images.  The wider your aperture is open, the less depth of field you have resulting in more Bokeh and vice versa.

Relate the Background to the Foreground

     Relating the background to the foreground is a technique used a lot in wedding photography.  An example is the groom is blurred in the background looking at the bride who is in focus.  This can be used with macro photography too.  Using this technique will give multiple layers to the photograph and allowing more color and shape options for the bokeh to emerge.  To do this move perspective points and focus on different spots.

Get Closer
     Macro photography is already photographing subjects up close.  However, filling up the photograph with the subject creates a large amount of creamy bokeh.  Adding a little blur will enhance the aesthetics, make the details pop and create interest.  To do this, get your camera as close to the subject as you can.  Your lens will have some limitations, so you may need a bigger subject.  Using a tripod or flat surface to rest your camera on will help limit camera shake.  

Make it a Landscape

     Often when thinking about close up photography landscape macro is often forgotten.  Macro can easily be turned into a landscape. Keeping the aperture wide open will allow the subject to stay crisp and give a soft focus to the areas around.  To do this, back away from your subject enough to allow a decent amount of the areas around your subject to come into view.  Keep these areas out of focus and your subject in focus.  

Use Multiple Bokeh Points
     Bokeh does not have to be limited to just the background.  Using various points in the photograph will help create interest and focus into your subject.  This is usually most effective when focusing through something, like grass.  To do this you will want to be a little bit away from your subject and have various items between you, the subject and behind it.  When you use a large aperture, and focus on the subject the areas around will naturally blur.  

Be Creative with the Background
     Be creative with bokeh.  Adding cards, glitter, foil, or anything else of interest to the background can change the bokeh.  It can add some fun color, shapes and textures. Don't hesitate to try anything you have on you or around, you maybe surprised at the results.

Go out of focus

     Not everything needs to be in focus to have beautiful bokeh in your photographs.  Having an entire image out of focus can give a impressionist, dreamy or a feeling of a memory.  This can be done with a very small area in focus or having the whole image out of focus.  To do this, adjust your camera to amount of out of focus you would like.  If you want a little more movement, as your camera is capturing the image you can move the lens creating an intention blur.  Also, adding saran wrap to the outside of your lens and putting a think layer gel, glitter or color gel on the saran wrap will create a unique blur with a little texture.

         Adding bokeh to your photographs is a fun and can have some beautiful results.  Check out some more example below and feel free to share your images and tips.  Happy Shooting!


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