4 Quick Tips for Creating Bokeh

With Olympus Visionaries John Sterling Ruth and Peter Baumgarten

Bokeh refers to the visual or aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus effect that occurs when using a lens on your PEN, OM-D or E-System camera. Taking advantage of this effect in your holiday images helps isolate your main subject while creating a pleasing background effect.

1The most important tip to create great bokeh is open your lens to the fastest aperture. The faster your lens the better the bokeh you can achieve.

Fast prime lenses inherently have a shallow depth of field resulting in photos with blurry backgrounds. This is due to the larger aperture of the optics (i.e. f1.2, f1.8, etc.). For a more dramatic blurring effect, choose a lens with a greater focal length. See this example from Olympus Visionary Peter Baumgarten of the various bokeh effects possible with the new M.Zuiko ED 45mm F1.2 PRO lens when taken using different aperture values.

2Get close to your subject. The closer you are, the more bokeh will become apparent.

3Make sure you create space between your subject and the background. More distance increases your bokeh effect.

4Bokeh is not only for the background. Position some lights in the foreground of your subject and create beautiful bokeh effects close to your lens.

Shot with the E-M1 and the M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8, ISO1600, 1/100sec, F1.8

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