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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre People Talk 
Thread started 17 Jul 2011 (Sunday) 17:29
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How does one get Bokeh like this?

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Jul 17, 2011 17:29 |  #1

And perhaps a better question is where does one find models so beautiful? …-week-july-17-2011-a.html (external link)

But really, is most of the magic in this image in the lens or the camera?

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Jul 17, 2011 18:12 |  #2

1) Get a fast lens (F/2.8, 1.8 or 1.4)
2) Get Flashes
3) Get Pocket Wizard
4) Find a stylish beautiful model

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Big ­ K
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Jul 17, 2011 21:58 |  #3

jough wrote in post #12774736 (external link)
But really, is most of the magic in this image in the lens or the camera?

Most of it is the photographer knowing how to set up and execute the shot. Besides that, lens is far more a contributor to the effect than the camera.

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Jul 17, 2011 22:12 |  #4

i feel like some of the bokeh was probably smoothened out with lightroom or photoshop


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charro ­ callado
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Jul 17, 2011 22:12 |  #5

I can't tell if strobes were used or just two big white reflectors.

regardless, the bokeh magic comes from the lens. if strobes were used, it was a lens with a hefty ND filter (.9, perhaps) attached.

the "rest" of the image magic comes from well executed lighting on a gorgeous model.

in order of importance, for me:

1. light/modifiers

2. lens

3-9. [other stuff]

10. camera body

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Jul 17, 2011 22:53 |  #6

Nice portrait lens (the longer the better), physical separation of your subject from the background (the more distance the better), and shoot at a nice, wide aperture. YOUR distance to the subject will also play into things...the closer you are, the shallower the depth of field, the creamier the background will be. Not quite sure what a fast lens or lights & modifiers have to do with this. This look can be achieved with natural light.

70-200L shot wide open (field with yellow flowers in the background). Natural light with a white reflector...


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Jul 18, 2011 06:27 |  #7

As usual, Lisa, wonderful pictures and insightful comments.

OP: Try this experiment and you'll learn how this is done.

Find a willing subject (or at least a cooperative one).
Put your longest lens on the camera (a 70-200 or 70-300 will do nicely) and use the longest focal length.
Place your subject about 20 feet from a nice background (trees or flowers).
Stand about 30 feet or so from your subject. Focus the camera on your subject and look at the bokeh in the background. Now, start walking toward your subject, re-focusing (or using AF in AI Servo Mode) on your subject as you go, and see what happens to the bokeh. You'll notice it getting smoother and smoother as you walk towards your subject.

Now, back up to your original spot, and have your subject start walking towards you, again keeping the focus on them. You should again see the bokeh getting nicer and smoother as he/she walks toward you.

That's all there is to it. The closer you are to your subject, the nicer the background will look. The more distance between your subject and the background, the nicer the background will look. And lastly, the longer the focal length of your lens, the nicer (generally) the background will be. Aperture plays a part as well, but as Lisa says, it's not critical to have a fast lens. The wider your aperture, the less separation you need from the background. So, with a 85mm f/1.2 you can have your subject closer to the background than, say, using a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens set at the same focal length.

Of course, some lenses are known for their attractive bokeh. The 85mm f/1.2 L for example (yes, Lisa. I'm jealous) is known for its very nice, smooth blurring of the background, whereas the 70-300mm f/4-5.6 is not. Get close enough to your subject, and get them far enough away from the background, though, and even the cheap 70-300mm will give you nice bokeh. The better lens just makes it much easier to achieve.

Hope this helps.

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Jul 18, 2011 09:44 as a reply to  @ gibbit1's post |  #8

Full Frame......period.

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Jul 18, 2011 17:01 |  #9

SeanH wrote in post #12778447 (external link)
Full Frame......period.

I dont thinks that necessary. That background isnt impossible or even hard to get on a crop. Here are two shots I feel are equally smooth in the bokeh and are on a crop. One was a T1i and the other a 7D.



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Cream of the Crop
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Jul 18, 2011 21:19 |  #10

A lot of bokek, background blur, is having a large distance from your subject to the next object visible in the image behind the subject. Depending on the situation, you can shoot f/8 and have great bokeh if there is nothing behind your subject for a good distance.

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Jul 18, 2011 21:21 |  #11

To get bokeh you have to go brokeh.

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Cream of the Crop
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Jul 18, 2011 21:29 |  #12

Depends on the bg also. If smooth to begin with then you don't need much distance between the subjet and bg. Here is one from last evening. 70-200mm f2.8 IS II @f2.8. BG was only like 5-6 feet away at closest point.


Thing with artifical light is you can easliy make that bg darker or lighter compared to the subject. Hard or impossible to do so with natural light and relector IMHO. But since OP asked about smoother bg, light type doesn't matter.

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Jul 18, 2011 22:04 |  #13

One thing to note about camera-to-subject distance vs focal length is, assuming you keep the subject framed at the same size, the two pretty much cancel each other out keeping the depth of field constant.

At least when shooting at portrait distances, and I say pretty much, because mathmatically there is a difference but the difference is so small you'll likely not notice it. The difference grows dramatically as you go to longer camera-to-subject distances.

So in plain english, if you have a set framing for your portrait subject, the only thing that will change your depth of field is the aperature setting. And the only things that will affect the bokeh are the aperature and subject-to-background distance.


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Jul 18, 2011 22:21 |  #14

I prefer "real" bokeh. You can tell the bokeh in the original image is being faked because the top of the hat and the inside of the hat show much greater Depth of Field than is suggested by the difference in sharpness between her eye lashes and her eyebrows and also her lips. (the latter make it appear as if the DOF is razor thin, but the hat betrays the editing)

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Jul 18, 2011 22:22 |  #15

Go 3/4 of the way down on this link to see a comparison of long and short focal length background blur. …SM-Macro-Lens-Review.aspx (external link)

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How does one get Bokeh like this?
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