What is Bokeh Photography?

Well if you are a beginner in photography, everyone will tell you to focus on the subject, which focus-mode to be used, how to compose a subject, what will be the lights on the subject, how much exposure should be there on the subject, etcetera etcetera. But what about the background?

As you will start researching about background composition in photography, that is when you will get to know about the " Bokeh effect " some people also call it " Boca effect ".







1. Which one is correct, Boca or Bokeh?

Now lets clear out this doubt in the very beginning. The correct word for this effect is
" Bokeh " which is pronounced as " Bow-Kei "
while the word " Boca " means " Mouth " in Spanish. There are other different meanings of the word Boca but none of them are related to photography.

So if you were wondering what is Boca in photography? then here is your answer. Boca is nothing but bokeh effect.



2. What is Bokeh effect?

The bokeh effect is an art of making the background "out-of-focus" or "burry" by using camera lens such that it separates the subject from the background by introducing a shallow depth of field in the image.

In leman language, Bokeh effect is simply another term for background blur. Specifically, a background with small fuzzy spots of lights and other out of focus objects.


Do You know: The word Bokeh is actually, Japenese term for the word "Blurr".

3. How to achieve bokeh in an image?

In order to achieve perfect Bokeh, you need to master the concept of depth of field and how to achieve Shallow depth of field in your image.

Vaguely speaking, Shallow depth of field is basically a closeup of the subject in focus. You make your camera to focus on a small area, while the background becomes out of focus and the small lights in the background take shape of the soft blob (small spots), hence giving you a nice Bokeh effect.

Now let us get a detailed understanding about Shallow depth of field.






3.1 What does Shallow depth of field mean? 

Before knowing what is a shallow depth of field, let us first find out what does depth of field (DOF) means.

Depth of field (DOF) represents the sharpness of an object that is under focus by the camera. 

Shallow depth of field is achieved when there is a smaller range of focus or the focus distance(distance between the object in focus and the camera) is less.

Smaller the focal distance, shallower the Depth of Field.


3.2 How to achieve Shallow depth of field?

There are 3 main factors that are needed to be keept in mind while creating a shallow depth of field in your photo. These factors are aperture, the distance between the subject and camera, focal length of the camera. 

Let us understand these terms and know, how can we achieve shallow depth of field by using these factors

Aperture : 

Aperture defines the amount of light that is exposed to the camera sensors for image construction in your camera. We control this activity by increasing or decreasing the aperture value.

In order to attain a shallow depth of field, aperture value must be large. That means camera sensors must be exposed to more light. 

Larger aperture value = Shallow depth of field

Distance between subject and camera :

Your subject must be closer to the camera in order to attain the shallow depth of field. You can attain this by using zoom lenses for digital camera or in case of the mobile camera, by clicking the picture in portrait mode and moving closer to the object in focus. 

Less distance between subject and camera = Shallow depth of field

Focal Length:

Focal Length is the capability of a lens to zoom into the object and bring it closer. As we know now, less distance between camera and subject will result in shallow depth of field. Thus longer the focal length, closer the subject and hence shallower the depth of field. 

Long focal length = Shallow depth of field








4. What is good and bad bokeh effect?


As easy as it sounds, creating a perfect Bokeh effect is not that easy, especially when you are new to it. But once you get a hold to whats a good or bad bokeh, you will be able to add a perfect Bokeh effect to your images.

Let us get an idea on what is categorized under good or bad bokeh effect.


Good Bokeh: 

  • There are no hard edges or sharpness in the background.
  • There are smooth soft light spots nicely distributed in your background. 
  • The background is not too much bright and distracting.
  • The bokeh effect doesn't overpower the subject. 
  • The whole image is easy to look at and treat to viewer's eye.

Bad Bokeh:


Definition of bad bokeh usually varies from person to person. While some photographers do not like to add really bold bokeh effect in their photos, so they call it as a bad bokeh effect, others might actually like it and hence the kind of effect is not so bad for them.

But generally, bellow mentioned points must be avoided to obtain a perfect bokeh effect.

  • Background draws attention from the subject in focus
  • Excessive clustering of bokeh light spots.  
  • There are hard outer lines (Onion ring effect) on your bokeh light spots.
  • There is a bushy effect in your bokeh.
Bad bokeh effect
Bokeh effect with hard outer lines


Excessive clustering of bokeh light
Bushy effect


5. Difference between the Bokeh effect and Background Blur

Well, I have read somewhere "A picture is worth a thousand words". Instead of explaining the difference between Bokeh effect and background blur, I will leave it for you to understand by observing the below images. 

Example for Bokeh effect
Example for Background blur
Do tell me what you observed in the comment section below!!!








Stock Photos that are used in this articl.Use of these images are for educational purpose. No copyright infringement intended.







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