Bokeh is a trending photography technique in which the background of a photo is blurred substantially to create a soft, compelling, deliberately out-of-focus effect. You may have seen a blurred bokeh background in night photography shots where streetlights and car headlights and taillights become artfully abstracted shapes in the background. The word “bokeh” is derived from the Japanese word “boke” which means “haze” or “blur.”
Achieving BokehBokeh can be achieved through a number of different techniques. The typical way is by using a very fast camera lens at a wide aperture — for example, f/ 2.8 or wider — up to f/ 1.4 if possible. Shoot with the lens wide open with a shooting mode of aperture manual or priority. The priority setting means you choose the f-stop and the camera will take care of the optimal shutter speed; with manual, you’ll choose both. The bokeh effect is also influenced by the aperture shape in the lens; circular blades will cause round, soft orbs, whereas a hexagonal aperture will reflect hexagonal shapes within the highlights of the image. The key is to balance all of these considerations to achieve the bokeh background effect using the camera.
Achieving Bokeh with Printed Bokeh BackdropsThe good news for photographers is that camera effects aren’t the only way to achieve the artistic bokeh look. If you’re having trouble mastering the camera technique, consider using a printed bokeh backdrop. Bokeh backdrops showcase blurred patterns that simulate the look of real blurred backgrounds, like sparkling lights and city streets. When used correctly, these faux-bokeh drops can look just like the real thing! Using a bokeh backdrop can be a lifesaver for beginners, but it can also save the day for even the most seasoned professionals. If a blurred background is desired even without a fast lens, or if the shooting area is short on space, a printed bokeh backdrop can provide the same desired effect. They can also be the perfect solution if a fast lens is used stopped down to its sharpest aperture and a bokeh effect is still desired. They’re also a great option for special events or parties where the photographer is shooting dozens of guest portraits and wants a consistent bokeh look in each photo.
Featuring: Cream Bokeh Printed Backdrop
Achieving Bokeh with Sequin BackdropsAnother option is to use a sequin backdrop. Sequin backdrops are not printed, but features thousands of actual small sequins which reflect light. When illuminated in a studio setting these unique backdrops can create a beautiful, sparkling bokeh effect. Their shimmering nature makes them a wonderful backdrop choice for holiday parties or special events!
Featuring: Silver Sequin Fabric Backdrop
Tips for Working with Bokeh BackdropWhen working with a new bokeh backdrop, whether sequin or printed, try experimenting with different combinations of subject placement and lighting. Move your subject far away from the backdrop and blur the background just slightly to create a soft and realistic bokeh effect. This may sound counter-intuitive (to blur an already blurred background) but often a slight blur can complement the printed design and create a smoother bokeh effect, making the backdrop appear that much more realistic. When using a sequin backdrop, consider moving your subject close to the backdrop so you can see the small sequins in the photo. Since sequin backdrops are naturally reflective, try experimenting with several different light set-ups in order to achieve that ultimate sequin sparkle. As many beginning photographers quickly learn, the same backdrop can photograph completely differently depending on the lighting and the subject’s distance from the backdrop.
Bokeh Backdrops In-ActionBokeh is a growing trend so you shouldn’t be surprised if clients start requesting this look in their photos. It’s also an excellent creative option to have on hand when an edgier, bolder look is desired. Here are just some of the possibilities for when you might consider using a bokeh background:
- Baby Portraits: Soft, yet colorful, a bokeh backdrop is a great option for cake smashes or baby portraits. See the two examples below which show off both a printed bokeh & a sequin backdrop!
- Romantic Portraits: Add an ethereal effect to your photos of couples in love or Valentine’s portraits with a Bokeh Heart Backdrop.
- Grungy Senior Portraits: Senior portraits go to new levels with a Bokeh City Street Printed Backdrop. Use this backdrop whenever a nighttime setting is desired without having to go on location.
- Creative Holiday Photos: The Christmas Lights or Tranquil Snowflake Backdrop are amazing ways to add the bokeh effect to your holiday photography.
Featuring: Red Snowflake Bokeh Printed Backdrop
- Dance Portraits: Soft and elegant, a bokeh backdrop can be a great backdrop for dance portraits, especially for young girls. With dozens of colors of available, you can easily find a backdrop that complements a dancer’s often colorful attire.
- Compelling Product Photography: Bokeh can add dramatic interest to otherwise-ordinary product photography shots. Consider our Cream Bokeh for more complex products or Rainbow Bokeh to add interest to simpler objects.
– Backdrop Express Photography Team
Have you ever worked with a bokeh backdrop? What was your experience like?See your photos featured in this blog! Submit a photo of a Backdrop Express Bokeh Backdrop (or any Backdrop Express backdrop) to our Photographer of the Week Contest & you could be featured on our blog!
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