Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's Pronounced "BOH-kay"

That Out-of-Focus Blur in Your Photograph

Whether you pronounce it BOH-kay or BOH-ke, bokeh can be described as the aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph, and it comes from the Japanese word "boke" that describes blur or haze.

There are lots of debate on photography forums about the best way to apply bokeh, or which equipment renders the most creamy, silky, smooth, or whatever host of other words people want to use to describe the blur.  As with my other posts, I'm not here to argue how you want to express your creativity.  I'm just here to help you figure out where and how I got a shot at Disney.

First, the location.  This picture was taken in the Japan Pavilion in World Showcase.  When you enter the pavilion, with Epcot to your back, go past the Pagoda and hang a left and go up the stairs.  You'll soon find these lanterns hanging in the outside dining area next to Katsura Grill, the fast-food dining restaurant in the Japan Pavilion.  To get this particular perspective, I needed to stand on a small wall under the lanterns.

I'm trying to keep this blog as non-technical as possible, but alas, this is one of those topics that I need to talk just a little about the settings.  To get bokeh in an image, you need to use a very "fast" lens as defined by the maximum aperture size.  Think really big hole (lets in more light) equals wide aperture.  Something with an f-stop of 2.8 or better, and ideally f/1.8 or even f/1.4.  Your camera settings should be set to Aperture Priority mode so you can control the aperture setting and the aperture needs to be as wide-open as possible.

It is still possible to get decent bokeh at smaller apertures.  The trick is to increase the distance between the subject in focus and the objects in the background.  One way to do this is to simply get closer to the subject.  OK, all that technical stuff aside, the settings for this picture were f/5.0, 1/400 sec, ISO 100 at 43mm (I shoot with a Sony A6000 that has a 1.5x crop factor).  So you can still get bokeh at smaller apertures.

This picture was taken inside Beaches & Cream which is a great soda shop in the Beach Club Resort.  If you go, I challenge you to order and finish the Kitchen Sink!  The settings for this were f/6.3, 1/60 sec, ISO 3200, 131mm.

Who doesn't love Beverly soda.  If you haven't tried it, go to Club Cool which is located in Epcot and have a drink.  You'll love it!  My camera settings were f/1.8, 1/5 sec, ISO 100, 35mm.  Notice that my aperture is wide open at f/1.8 and the bokeh starts to occur even before the Fanta soda.  So the wider the aperture, the shorter the distance of the area that will be in focus.

Have fun applying bokeh to your pictures!