DSLR Bokeh Tutorial


It seems that many Flickrites out there are struggling to get good bokeh shots. The good news is that shooting bokeh is one of the easiest photographic techniques to learn. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest to master. Here I will attempt to get you started with the basics. You’ll have to do the mastery part on your own :-)

Bokeh (pronounced: “boke-aay” or “boke-uh”- I prefer the latter) is the out of focus or blurry areas of a photograph. Wikipedia has a much more detailed description of the definition of bokeh that’s worth a read. On Flickr I find most people use the term to specifically describe out of focus highlights in a photo. For the purposes of this how-to we’ll focus (pun intended) on out of focus highlight bokeh.

The photo above made the Front Page of Flickr’s Explore last week. I wish I could say that this was a difficult and challenging shot that called upon all of my skills as a photographer. The truth is this was one of the easiest shots I took that night. These small aperture long exposure shots were a lot more difficult to get right:

The secret to shooting bokeh lies in its definition: out of focus highlights. You need three things to shoot bokeh: pin point highlights, a large aperture and a short focal distance. When I say pin point highlights I mean small light sources. Trying to shoot a large area of light like a window or fluorescent light does not typically produce the type of bokeh “balls” that we are looking for here. Small lights like Christmas twinkle lights are an obvious source, but any light source that is far enough away will become infinitely small and can produce bokeh. I find street and car lights in the distance at night make wonderful bokeh.

Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7 SMC

Next, we need a large aperture. For the novice, the aperture is the opening in the lens that controls the amount of light that makes it through the lens and shutter to the film/sensor. The smaller the f number (or f-stop) the larger the opening. This is usually expressed as f/5.6, f/4, f/2.8, f/1.4, etc. Read more about aperture here.  Typically the larger the aperture the larger the bokeh. Fast lenses below f/2.8 like my 20 year old manual focus Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7 SMC are ideal for shooting bokeh (and is the lens I use for most of my bokeh shots on Fickr).

That is not to say that one can not get great bokeh using lenses with a smaller maximum aperture like the typical kit lenses sold with most entry level DSLRs. The trick is to make sure you are using the largest aperture possible (smallest f number). To do this I recommend switching your camera into Aperture Priority mode (typically labeled “A” or “Av” on the program mode dial) and dialing in the smallest f number possible. With most kit lenses this will be f/3.5. Here is another Explore bokeh photo of mine shot with my kit lens at f/3.5:

The other reason that you want the largest possible aperture your lens is capable of is to ensure that your bokeh is round and not faceted. You see, most lenses use 5-7 straight aperture blades to create the variable opening in the lens. Bokeh takes on the shape and size of the lens opening so smaller apertures will produce smaller, faceted and generally less pleasing bokeh. There are exceptions to this rule as most high end lenses use curved aperture blades that keep the aperture opening round at all f stops. However, if you’re shooting with a $1,500 Canon L series lens I trust you already know how to shoot bokeh ;-)

Aperture openings on a 6 bladed lens (mouse over for setting):


Bokeh shots at different aperture settings with this lens (mouse over for setting):

f/1.7 bokehf/4 bokehf/8 bokeh

The last component to getting good bokeh shots is the focus distance used. I have found that the shorter the focus distance to the foreground subject, the better the background bokeh I will get. The idea is to get as much distance between the subject and the bokeh producing highlights. Also, the closer you are focused to the camera the shorter the depth of field (DOF) will be. This ensures those lights way off in the background will be nice and blurred out.

The focal length of the lens is also a consideration. Depth of field is basically a function of focal length, distance to subject and aperture. At a given aperture and distance longer focal lengths result in shorter DOF. A short DOF is what we need to effectively blur the background highlights to produce bokeh. Getting close to the foreground subject and zooming to the longest setting on your lens will likely put you where you need to be to capture killer bokeh.

Here we have an example of close focus on the foreground subject coupled with a wide open aperture and longer focal length to create bokeh from small lights in the background:

When I took this shot I was at the minimum focus distance for my 50mm 1.7 lens (about 18-20″). The white (gold colored here) twinkle lights were on another Christmas tree approximately 8-10′ behind the light bulb and branch I focused on. The other smaller colored bokeh highlights were from other lights on the same tree that I focused on.


Now that I’ve rambled on ad nauseam about all the intricate details of capturing bokeh, let’s get on to the part where you actually go do it!

For DSLR users (point ‘n shooters will have to wait for another tutorial):

  1. Set your camera to Aperture Priority mode (A or Av on the program dial).
  2. Select the smallest possible aperture (f) number for your lens (should be ≤f/4).
  3. Switch your camera to manual focus and manually adjust the focus to the closest setting.
  4. Zoom your lens to somewhere around 50mm.
  5. Find some nice points of light at a distance of 10′ or greater from the camera (your Christmas tree is the perfect subject this time of year).
  6. Fire away!

If you get a shutter speed that’s too slow (ie: less than 1/30 second), try bumping the ISO up to 400 or more. If you do the Christmas tree thing what you should get is something like this:

Depending on how dark the background is (darker usually = better) you might have to dial in some exposure compensation to get your bokeh to really pop. This image looks like it came out fine without any, but I often have to dial in +2/3 to +1 EV for my 50mm 1.7 on my Pentax K10D.

Next, try putting a subject of some sort in front of the camera at the minimum focus distance (or there about) with the bokeh highlights in the background. It’ll take a little playing around with subject matter and lighting (both foreground and background) but in no time you should be shooting bokeh like a pro! For more examples, be sure to check out my bokehliscious set on Flickr.

Please let me know in comments if this is helpful to you and/or if you have any questions or suggestions. Also, feel free to post links of your bokeh attempts for everyone to enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.

Happy bokeh-ing!

UPDATE: This is my single most popular post on my blog. Please let me know what else you would like for me to share about bokeh!

132 Responses to “DSLR Bokeh Tutorial”

  1. 1 » Pocket Camera Bokeh Tutorial:

    [...] I posted a tutorial on photographing bokeh with a DSLR. Today I am going to attempt to do the same about pocket cameras. Please take a minute to read over [...]

  2. 2 » Christmas tree photo tutorial:

    [...] of your Christmas tree and other Holiday decor. All those colorful and tiny lights make perfect bokeh fodder. And highly processed detail shots like this are also [...]

  3. 3

    Thanks for the tutorial! I spent a dull afternoon experimenting with my Canon S3IS and had some success with the manual mode ISO 200, super macro,f/2.7

  4. 4

    Awesome tutorial, I will check it out when doing any bokeh-ing! Cheers!

  5. 5 » It’s the lenses that matter most:

    [...] end up being a bit long on an APS-C sensor camera [80mm] but at least you can start exploring the Wonderful World of Bokeh and available light [...]

  6. 6

    maybe you intended to write this for less professional photographer, but smallest f value NOT always produce good bokeh. it should depend on the composition. sometimes ‘blurrer’ background proves more distractive, or less ‘artistic’.

    otherwise nice article.

  7. 7

  8. 8

    can I produce bokeh with my pocket camera??

    Please tell me…. i’m crazy aboout this :D

  9. 9

    cyber-shooter: You can but the results will be limited. See my pocket camera bokeh tutorial here:

  10. 10
    Fotografie News, Links und Videos: Die browserFruits | Digitale Fotografie Lernen - KWERFELDEIN - Martin Gommel:

    [...] Wie wir diese schön runden Bokeh-Kreise hinbekommen, das zeigt unds Roberts [...]

  11. 11
    Peter Denton:

    Robert, thanks so much for a totally clear, easy to follow, nicely informal but informative tutorial. Very much appreciated. Happily, I have a 50mm 1:1.8 lens, so I’m hoping for some results…

  12. 12
    Brilliant Bokeh Photography And How To @ Designussion:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial [...]

  13. 13

    excellent advice

  14. 14
    ***Assignment: Collections Sept. 23 - Oct. 7:

    [...] check these sites: Bokeh basic definition (Wikipedia) Understanding Boke (Luminous Landscape) DSLR Bokeh Tutorial Pocket Camera Bokeh Tutorial Shaped Bokeh __________________ Linda My Gear OK to re-edit and [...]

  15. 15
    ***Assignment: Bokeh Sept. 30 - Oct. 14:

    [...] and how to achieve it: Bokeh basic definition (Wikipedia) Understanding Boke (Luminous Landscape) DSLR Bokeh Tutorial Pocket Camera Bokeh Tutorial Shaped Bokeh Some bokeh captred by my 50mm lens: As always, rules: [...]

  16. 16
    rick lumpas:

    Thanks. Now I know what bokeh is. I will practice this tutorial ASAP.

  17. 17

    Excellent tutorial! I have written down my notes and I look forward to practicing your tips. I look forward to reading more or your tutorials.
    Thank You!

  18. 18

    Excellent, can’t wait to try this out. Thanks for taking the time to share this!

  19. 19

    Excellent step by step detailing. Thanks.

  20. 20
    Me gustan mucho las fotos con boket qu objetivo? - Pgina 2 -

    [...] [...]

  21. 21

    Hey, Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I’ve been trying my hand at every photographic style I can find as part of my learning curve. This should be really helpful for tonights 365!

  22. 22
    Chuan Wen:

    bokeh photography is similar to tachisme, an art that I don’t know how to enjoy, haha

  23. 23

    I just bought my Olympus E 520 few days ago and im struggling w/ it. WHenever I zoom the lens, f number will increase so i cant create bokeh effect….plz help T______T”.

  24. 24

    The 14-42mm Olympus kit lens has a variable aperture depending on the zoom setting (f/3.5 @ 14mm and f/5.6 @ 42mm). You can still get good bokeh though. Be sure to set the camera to Aperture Priority mode. Zoom to 42mm and set the aperture to f/5.6. Get up as close as you can to a test subject with some lights in the distant background (10 feet or more away). Focus on the close subject then recompose slightly so that the subject is to one side of the frame and the lights are visible in the background and take a picture. You should get nice bokeh balls in the background.

    You can also try switching to manual focus and simply set the focus to the closest setting and then point the camera at some lights that are 5 feet + away (that’s how I took the main shot above).

    Hope this helps. Good luck.


  25. 25

    closest setting you mean f 5.6 42mm?
    btw, if i wanna buy one more lens for the olympus, wat should i buy to get good bokeh?
    thanks :)

  26. 26

    By “closest setting” I mean the minimum focus distance at f/5.6 @ 42mm (closest to the front of the lens). The best 4/3rds mount lens for bokeh is probably the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4:

    The Sigma 24 f/1.8 is about 1/2 the price of the Panasonic lens but quite a bit larger:

    The Olympus 25mm f/2.8 lens is the cheapest alternative but at “only” f/2.8 it won’t produce as good of bokeh as the other two (though it is a definite improvement over the kit lens and quite compact):


  27. 27
    Scott C:

    Great tutorial. Just the information I was looking for. Thanks for posting it.

  28. 28
    Leif B:

    Your site is a great resource, thank you for all your detail. I am waiting for my first DSLR the Pentax K200D, it should be here Friday. I used to love film photography, but the processing became to expensive to really have fun. With pictures like yours, I am inspired and will be visiting your site frequently.

  29. 29

    thank you so much. You should put up more tutorial. there are some pictures out there, let’s say this one ( even thou its not a good example) i wanna take picture of the street and the light make a whole line like that. how can i do it? is it bokeh too?
    and you should make a tutor how to adjust the WB too >”<. i have trouble w/ the A and G of WB T______T".
    Thanks :)

  30. 30
    Weekly Assignment's. - Forums - Yorkshire Terrier Community:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial « The Bokeh could be our first assingment. Or we could use the ones that are posted on the photography forum. I posted a link to a tutorial on Bokeh __________________ Ollie Chachi Hallie Harlie & Me] [...]

  31. 31

    Hi Robert again,
    I’m just curious how I’m able to know what kit lens are compatible w/ my olympus e 520.
    U’ve been so helpful :)

  32. 32 » 2009 Challenge, Day 346: HOLIDAY BOKEH:

    [...] challenge. Capturing the best looking bokeh isn’t just about capturing lights out of focus. Here’s a decent tutorial, to lend you a hand. If you’re into DIY projects, then give this one a try too! [...]

  33. 33
    ReadyPhotoSite Blog » Amazing Bokeh Photography: When Beauty Is Out of Focus:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial [...]

  34. 34
    renee anne:


    I have found this SUPER helpful! I am yet to try it, and my DSLR is only just out of the box, but as soon as it gets dark, the fairylights will go on, and I am going to get playing with this!!!

    Thank you so much!

    Renee x

  35. 35
    jessie aquino:

    The tutorial is really clear and crisp, i’ll try it right away. thanks

  36. 36
    Brilliant Bokeh Wallpapers | INSPIKS:

    [...] renders out-of-focus points of light. The bokeh effect is created naturally through the lens of a camera, or it can be recreated digitally in a Graphic Design Software such as Photoshop. If you want to [...]

  37. 37

    i tried soo many times
    but i didnt take bokeh
    dont know wt to do

  38. 38

    take nikon D40 from its bag then tadaaaa.. i did it after tried so many times.. thank you :)

  39. 39 » Blog Archive » Why I Will Not Become a Professional Photographer:

    [...] it, another one will be in the shop to be repaired. I’m having trouble getting down the Bokeh concept, but I want to learn to do it with different shapes. I also have 2 photos that have been [...]

  40. 40
    Bokeh Effect in Web Design: Showcase, Tutorials and Resources |

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial [...]

  41. 41
    » Blog Archive » Just a List:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial [...]

  42. 42
    Bokeh tutorials « nidpor – western snapper – tawny jam:

    [...] nidpor – western snapper – tawny jam smile! photography thru design « Fantastic abstract world of Luigi Benedetti Bokeh tutorials April 8, 2010 [...]

  43. 43
    sahil guraya:

    loved ths tutorial…thnx a lot

  44. 44
    Sharon Cooke:

    Great tutorial!!! Thanks very much.

  45. 45
    Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  46. 46
    Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography | Best Wordpress News™:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  47. 47
    TOPGFX » Blog Archive » Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  48. 48
    TRICKS FORUM » Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  49. 49
    Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography Web Burning Blog:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – revivalist Donovan sets discover in ultimate steps the techniques of bokeh picturing with digital SLR cameras. This consultative warning acknowledges that bokeh skills are rattling ultimate to garner up, and equally as arduous to master. [...]

  50. 50
    Beautiful Examples Of Bokeh Photography «

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  51. 51
    Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography |

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  52. 52
    Beautiful Examples of Bokeh Photography | WordPress Identity:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial – Roberts Donovan sets out in simple steps the techniques of bokeh photography with digital SLR cameras. This informative lesson acknowledges that bokeh skills are very simple to pick up, and equally as difficult to master. [...]

  53. 53
    PEN «

    [...] on quietly on its own averaging about 300-500 views a day. My most popular posts by far are my DSLR Bokeh Tutorial and Shooting Manual Lenses on Pentax DSLRs tutorial. It is interesting how popular my DSLR Bokeh [...]

  54. 54

    This really helped, I am a young photographer and I loved some of my friends portraits that had brokeh in the background and i had to learn how to do it! Thank you!
    Here is a shot i got about a week after I learned this:

  55. 55

    hi can i produce nice portrait shot with background bokeh using my lumix lx3? thanks.

  56. 56

    Sure. See this post.

  57. 57

    this really helped me thank you so much, i seen these cool dot pictures and had no clue what they were but wanted to do them and i had no clue what anything ment on my dslr, :)

  58. 58
    Bokeh Shapes « Photozoan:

    [...] [...]

  59. 59
    Bokeh! « Think of pretty things:

    [...] been playing around with this technique. There are really good instructions available here. I think I managed to get the hang of it by the end of last night, but it’s not so easy (easy [...]

  60. 60
    Amazing Bokeh Photography and Resources - Photoshop tutorials, illustrator, photography, tutorials, tips, 3D, Cinema 4D Models and Tutorials:

    [...] Photoshop bokeh tutorial DSLR Bokeh tutorial [...]

  61. 61
    Holiday Joy Begins «:

    [...] this holiday photography class and I cannot wait! Another fun holiday photography bit – this fantastic Holiday Bokeh Tutorial by Robert [...]

  62. 62

    hey there thanks for your very helpful tutorial :)
    this is my first time trying bokeh so yeah i’m a novice
    anyway i tried out everything and its cool but it’s so hard to get the object on focus sharp althought everything at the back is blur.and is the lighting on the object supposed to be dark?
    many thanks

  63. 63

    very good tutorial, thank you very much

  64. 64

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial. I’m going to try this soon.

  65. 65

    Thanks for your sharing, I also use Pentax A 50f1.7 for bokeh too. I am pleased to share with everyone hereafter:

  66. 66

    Daylight with Pentax-A 50f1.7 SMC


  67. 67
    Edwin Barreto:

    Finally, someone who took a rather difficult concept to not only explain, but made it practical for all to enjoy; thank you.

  68. 68
    Bokeh Tutorial (DSLR Photography Tutorial):

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial [...]

  69. 69
    All things Bokeh | The Daily Life of Two Serial Shooters.:

    [...] Finally – a DSLR Bokeh Tutorial that helped me in understanding WTF bokeh really is. Check it out at [...]

  70. 70

    I loved this! Thank you for the tutorial!!! I do not have a christmas tree, but I used the same settings for street lights.

  71. 71
    Project 365 – Day 20 « Kristina McGill Photography:

    [...] i tried my hand at a new technique!  Bokeh is  is the out of focus or blurry areas of a photograph.  I think i need to tweek this technique [...]

  72. 72

    I don’t like being pedantic, but there are indeed correct pronunciations of the word “bokeh.”

    “Boke-uh” is not one of them.

    It is pronounced more like the word “bouquet,” but the first syllable is more like “bow” from “rainbow.”

  73. 73
    Shooting Challenge: Bokeh [Photography] | t3knoDorKs:

    [...] Roberts Donovan will walk you through the basic rules of the technique, as well as the “secret” to it all—out of focus highlights. [...]

  74. 74
    DSLR Bokeh Tutorial : OneClickz:

    [...] Writer: [...]

  75. 75

    Got here by way of the Gizmodo challenge page. Excellent explanation of bokeh and how to achieve it. I couldn’t have explained it to someone else how to do it even though I know how to do it. Will have to share this with friends.

  76. 76
    » Blog Archive » Pics…:

    [...] You can learn more about photo effect here [...]

  77. 77

    Thanks so much for this, definitely going to try it!

  78. 78

    This was quite helpful. I tried the shooting bokeh last night, will try shooting it with an object in the foreground soon :)


  79. 79
    Weekly Assignment Wednesdays 6 – Bokeh (March 30 – April 13) « un peu capoté…:

    [...] do you achieve bokeh? Here are some links that may help – a DSLR bokeh tutorial, a pocket camera bokeh tutorial and a shaped bokeh tutorial. I haven’t yet tried the last two [...]

  80. 80
    Photography DIY: how to make your own bokeh shapes | ObamaPress:

    [...] camera and a lens with a large aperture. I’m definitely no photography expert, so refer to this good article for info about lenses and settings for taking shots with bokeh. I used my Canon Digital Rebel XSi [...]

  81. 81
    Day 33: Bokeh |:

    [...] For any photographers out there who are keen to give this technique a shot (excuse the pun), here is a detailed tutorial. [...]

  82. 82

    Great blog! Exactly what I’ve been looking for, I hope to try this out tonight, thank you :)

  83. 83

    wonderful tutorial… i was searching the same for bokeh…

  84. 84
    Mary Grace:

    I read this a few years ago, and again today. Thank you!! I need the simple words to “get it”.

  85. 85
    An Extensive Guide to Creating Bokeh Photography - How To Videos:

    [...] Donovan’s DSLR bokeh tutorial is wonderfully thorough, with lengthy explanations of all the technical components regarding lenses [...]

  86. 86

    Excellent blog here! Additionally your site a lot up very fast! What host are you the usage of? Can I get your associate hyperlink in your host? I want my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

  87. 87
    Masinah Sahid:

    Thank you for your precious tutorial…I’ll try it soon!

  88. 88
    Winter Portraits and Holiday Scenes | Soul Gaze Photography {Blog}:

    [...] and another more in depth: Bokeh techniques blur lights with the popular circular blur such as in the above link, but [...]

  89. 89

    I have a 72mm lense. I can capture bokeh but I cannot get a clear image of an object with the bokeh in the background. tips?

  90. 90
    Steve Carlson:

    Can you do bokeh on iPhone? Please answer I’m trying to do one of my Xmas tree but it isn’t working. Any tips? Thanks so much! :)

  91. 91

    Hi. I keep running into the same problem. I believe my settings aren’t right. I have a nikon d5100 18-55mm lens will that work? My problem is when I get the bokeh focused when I go to snap it refocuses my camera

  92. 92

    Thanks very much for this. Have now successfully taken my first bokeh shots of Christmas lights! :)

  93. 93

    it is so helpful, tnx.

  94. 94

    this is very helpful and thank you so much.

  95. 95
    Unplanned project: closet craft organization « Tiny Leaf:

    [...] DIY tags didn’t work out how I had hoped, so I ended up trying something different. I used a bokeh photo of Christmas lights I snapped last week as a background and whipped up matching labels by adding [...]

  96. 96
    DIY: Bokeh shapes «:

    [...] lente com uma abertura grande. Definitivamente não sou nenhuma especialista em fotografia, nesse artigo contem algumas informações sobre as lentes e configurações para tirar fotos com o efeito [...]

  97. 97

    Deidra, try switching to manual focus mode.

  98. 98

    I have tried it with my iPhone 4S but the results are pretty poor. Use the same technique described in my Pocket Camera Bokeh Tutorial if you want to give it a try yourself.

  99. 99

    Sara, try getting the bokeh to look like you want then moving the camera back and forth until you get the subject in the foreground in focus.

  100. 100

    Thanks for the amazing tutorial! I was looking for this kind of tutorial for ages.. I tried as soon as I read the instructions. I am not sure how to play with the lighting though, have a look at these 2 shots and give me a feedback. I tried playing with the ISOs but my subject turned out darker at times and I also got grainy pictures ( you can see them if you look harder ). Im still going to practice.

  101. 101
    Forgot to attach the other one sorry!

  102. 102

    thank you very much for your detail wonderful tutorial.I hope to try this out ASAP…:)

  103. 103
    Akash Saikia:

    I will be trying it today :)
    Lets see what happens.

    Thanks for all your efforts and explanation for a novice like me.

  104. 104
    Brahma Foz:


    Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

  105. 105
    Vicky Hollenbeck:

    This is an excellent tutorial! I just learned recently what the term ‘bokeh’ is and today I followed your easy-to-use tutorial and made some really nice bokeh shots! Thanks so much for this!

  106. 106
    Forrest Hendren:

    Appreciate the tutorial. I’m reading up on whatever I can to get better shots. A friend of mine, Shane Black, is doing wonderful things with his shots and I’m just learning and looking around to gain as much experience as possible. I’d love any advice on close (face shot) up photographs that give immaculate detail and grit.

  107. 107

    Thanks for the tutorial! I got the Bokeh kit from PhotoJojo and was beating my head against the wall and getting really disappointed that it wasn’t working. Turns out I just needed to switch to manual focus, which I found in your lovely piece here. I’m looking forward to improving upon the kit and really opening up the possibilities of this technique.

  108. 108

    I´m getting a film SLR camera with a 50mm lens today, hopefully it’s gonna be useful for making bokeh. I’ve also made bokeh with my point-and-shoot camera (a Samsung WB150F). What I do with this one is zooming and setting the focus to the closest distance and it does produce bokeh. Anyway I’ve also tried with my mom’s Sony Cybershot -It’s only 5x optical zoom- but it won’t produce any nice bokeh. :/

  109. 109
    motion activated bokeh | Latest News For Everthing You Know:

    [...] DSLR bokeh tutorial [...]

  110. 110
    Bokeh photography | Turkonkoloji:

    [...] DSLR Bokeh Tutorial « robertsdonovan.comDec 11, 2008 … Here is another Explore bokeh photo of mine shot with my kit lens at f/3.5: …. Brilliant Bokeh Photography And How To @ Designussion: … July 12th, 2012 | [...]

  111. 111

    Just wanted to add my thanks for this clear, and detailed and easy to follow tut… This is why I love the net :)

  112. 112

    @ Carlos, point-and-shoot cameras just don’t have large enough sensors and apertures to produce truly pleasing bokeh. You’ll get much better results from your DSLR and 50mm lens. Thanks for the note!

  113. 113
    Creating Bokeh With The HS20 « A KiwiRetrospective:

    [...] sit somewhere in the middle ground for most images. For a little more “How To” visit Rob Donovan’s website for a hands on style tutorial using a DSLR. I cite this reference as it gives us a good comparative [...]

  114. 114

    Any requirements for the type of DSLR being used? Can any DSLR-like camera be used?

  115. 115

    Any DSLR can be used but a “DSLR-like” camera may not deliver very good results. See my pocket camera bokeh tutorial for non-DSLR cameras.

  116. 116
    Flickr finds: Bokeh | For Love of Design:

    [...] Click here for an in-depth tutorial on this beautiful technique. Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tags: blur, bokeh, flickr, Jacynthe Blaire, Marquisa, photography, SurfaceSpotting, Sylvain Latouche [...]

  117. 117
    Day 21 – Air [October Photo Challenge] | Our Wired Lives:

    [...] is Bokeh Day.  If you don’t know how to get bokeh, here are a couple links for creating a DIY bokeh, and a more general bokeh how [...]

  118. 118
    Picture the Holidays – The Season of Lights | A Madison Mom:

    [...] effect.  Only, I’ve never actually taken them on purpose.  Thank goodness Tracey linked to Roberts Donovan blog post on shooting bokeh or I would still be spending hours messing with the dials on my camera.  [...]

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    From Cosplayers to Photographers - Beginner Guide:

    [...] have understood some basic concepts, check out this useful site for bokeh Garou is lazy and thus : DSLR Bokeh Tutorial Taking good shots You get the basics of how the camera works. You get the info on toggling [...]

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    i tried ti setting my camera but i cant find how to set to aperture priority mode (A or Av) i am using nikon D90.
    Plese help me to figure it out.

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    I’m doing all these things and I’m really interested in bokeh and have been trying and playing around with it but I’m just not getting it. The smallest f-stop on my camera (Canon EOS 1100D) is 5.6 and I’m wondering if that’s the problem. Because I’ve adjusted everything else, but all the tutorials I’ve read through use a larger aperture than that. Do you have any advice on what I can do to make it work?? Because I’ve tried just about everything I can think of….

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    Sally, if you are using the kit zoom lens that came with your camera (18-55mm) then f/5.6 is the smallest f-stop your lens is capable of at 55mm. If you zoom out to 18mm you will be able to select f/3.5. However, achieving good bokeh at 18mm is next to impossible. You should still be able to achieve a modest bokeh effect at 55mm and f/5.6 if you focus on a subject up close and have point source lights in the far background. My general recommendation to anyone looking to master the bokeh effect is to purchase a “fast fifty” lens. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens (AKA: “nifty fifty” and “plastic fantastic”) is cheap ($100) and produces a wonderful bokeh effect on your camera. Plus it makes an excellent low light and portrait lens. Hope this helps!

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    Sari, just set the mode dial on the top left side of your D90 to the “A” position. You will then need to use the front control dial (I believe) to manually select the desired aperture setting. You might also want to search for an online user guide for your D90 to help you become more familiar with its controls and operation. Cheers!

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    David Muir:

    Thank you for posting this. Very clear and helpful.

    I’ve posted my first attempt at bokeh on Flickr – Not great art, but I’m pleased with how it’s turned out. :-)

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    Steve jones:

    I have just sent off for a Better Bokeh kit – cant wait to try it out, but unsure even now how it will work. I am looking forward to the results

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    With all due respect, perhaps it may be less confusing to your readers if you refer to your apertures as “the smallest number aperture” rather than “the smallest aperture.” Reason being, the smallest number aperture your le.s uses is actually the widest aperture. The largest number aperture on your lens is the smallest opening your lens has. Agreed?

    Thanks for the nice article.
    Terri Aigner

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    trybZe Imagery:

    I’m really impressed with the way you broke it all down. Now I have more understanding about bokeh. Would like to be in touch more often personally.I’m a photographer from Nigeria :) BB pin:2755E905

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    trybZe Imagery:

    I’m trying it out on my canon 7d with the nifty fifty :)

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    I think that’s what I said ;-)
    “Select the smallest possible aperture (f) number for your lens (should be ≤f/4).”

    Thanks, anyway!

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    Lucy Harvarton:

    I have been doing photography for about 5 years and this post really speaks to me, thank you.

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    hello i love this tutorial it actually makes sense i have a canon 450D and a 18-55mm lens i have tried taking bokeh shots before i read your tutorial and they didn’t work! after reading other tutorials they all say you need a 50mm lens, is this right? or can i do it with the lens i have? if so can you please tell me how? :)

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    Kerry Scahill:

    Hi, I have been new learning photography for about 1years and this post really great to me, thank you.

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