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Bokeh Photography – a source of inspirational photography

A Visual Guide to Bokeh

Chris made me.

My 2009 Canon photo 5 package

Every year I participate in the Canon EOS Photo 5 Competition in Australia. It’s basically a competition where you sign up, register for a ‘photo5’ box and wait for your mail for 5 creative briefs. Last year, one of the 5 briefs (hence the name, photo 5!) provided 3 bokeh ‘hoods’ to inspire competitors to create experimental depth of field photos. Canon uploaded a video to YouTube with some awesome tips on how to use the bokeh hoods, tips on which lenses to use, things NOT to do and some technical aspects of bokeh. Check it out:

If you’d like to recreate these experimental images, you can create your own bokeh hood with a few basic materials.

More on the Canon Photo5 Competition

While registration for the 2010 photo5 has closed, the competition has one brief that is open to all in the public. This year, the open brief is titled, “Inspired by Sound“, and asks for entrants to listen to a sound clip, and creatively translate that into an image. [NB: Open only to Australian and New Zealand photographers].

Happy snapping!



Filed under: DIY, Night Bokeh, Tips, Video Tutorials, , , , , , , , ,

Using Bokeh to Get Lost in the Crowd

I wrote an earlier post for food bloggers about the use of bokeh to polish up their images. But Bokeh is something anyone can apply to, no matter what their hobby, be it food, cars or playing pool.

I was taking shots recently for a birthday party in a crowded city bar and saw some amazing lanterns in the background of the bar behind the pool tables.

Bar Lights

Dangling bar lights

Perfect for Bokeh photography! Dispersed circular lights out of the depth of field would make a nice accompaniment to balls. The shallow depth of field also changed the scenery of the crowded bar to the surface of the pool table and allowed the image to focus on nothing but the game.

12, 13

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/1.8, Exposure: 1/10 seconds)

10(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/1.8, Exposure: 1/10 seconds)

9, 10

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/1.8, Exposure: 1/160 seconds)

Great Examples of Pool Playing Bokeh

Untitled by Joseph Robertson using a BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

Your Last $50 Is Riding On This

Your last $50 is riding on this by Mick 0 using a BY-NC 2.0 licence

not ready for the big leagues yet (25/365)

not ready for the big leagues yet (25/365) by swimparalell using a BY-SA 2.0 licence


6 by Slightlynorth using a BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence

Billiard Bokeh

Billiard Bokeh by adwriter using a BY-NC 2.0 licence

They key to these images is having your subject in focus at a shallow depth of field, and placing either lights or other objects in a distance far enough to be outside the lenses depth of field, as shown in the images above.

Happy Snapping!


Filed under: Night Bokeh, Tips, , , , ,

Food For Thought

With the myriad of food bloggers out there in cyber land, another aspect to tantalising writing is the use of tantalising images.   In respect to cooking, imagery online sits in the place of the other senses available when it comes to food, ie, ones that help discover inviting aromas, succulent (and almost sinful) tastes and the surprisingly delightful textures on ones palate. I’m no foodie, so let me demonstrate with a home cooked pizza.

Let’s say you’re making up two different styles of pizza. You want to show them both, but make it obvious to your readers which one you are referring to in your image. For instance, I’ve used shaved ham in my ‘recipe’ (lies, I don’t use recipes when making pizza, it’s whatever is in the fridge!).

Non-Bokeh Pizza =[

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/22.0, Exposure: 2.5 seconds)

While your readers can see the shaved ham pizza in the foreground, the diced ham in the background provides distraction and possibly provide irrelevance to the paragraph your image relates to. Not exactly a major issue, but engaging the recipe to image can provide a nice touch to polish up a blog post.

Bokeh Pizza =]Oh look, it’s delicious shaved ham!

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/1.8, Exposure: 1/50th of a second)

The use of bokeh in the kitchen can reduce visual clutter while focusing only on what is important to the message you want translated in your image. The shaved ham is the main focus, allowing readers to immediately savour the meaty goodness in one eyeful. The background pizza with diced ham is now out of the depth of field, rendering it as a blurred, bokeh pizza.

There are other uses of bokeh in the kitchen, particularly for amateur bloggers using your everyday kitchen. Sure, you could go to immense lengths to tidy up the background for your images, or why not use bokeh to clean up your kitchen? (Doesn’t work in real life, so don’t rid your cleaning products just yet).


Non-Kitchen Bokeh =[

I don’t want to show people my kettle, salt and pepper grinder, left-over oil from deep frying or a half used pasta packet!

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/22, Exposure: 2 seconds)


Kitchen bokeh =]

Tada!! Bokeh Kitchen Mess in an instant and claim some focus on your meaty goodness!

(Image shot with Canon 50mm prime lens – Aperture: f/1.8, Exposure: 1/80th of a second)

If you aren’t equipped with an SLR, I find the macro settings of a point and shoot camera to provide similar identifying details and focus, perhaps even more than an SLR using a prime lens due to the close up nature you will need to capture your tasty meals.

Happy blogging and snapping!


P.S – The pizzas were delicious =]

Filed under: Food, Tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paula L

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