Step into the enchanting world of bokeh photography, where creativity and technical mastery intertwine to produce mesmerizing imagery. Bokeh, a captivating optical effect created when the camera artfully renders an out-of-focus background through the lens, holds the power to elevate your artistic prowess.

While shutter speed alone does not directly affect bokeh, it plays an intriguing role in the overall process. In this article, we embark on an illuminating journey to unravel the mysteries of bokeh. Discover the factors that influence bokeh, learn the techniques to enhance or diminish its effect, and unveil the intriguing relationship between shutter speed and this enchanting phenomenon.

Are you ready to delve into the realm of bokeh and unleash your photographic vision? Let’s embark on this fascinating adventure together.

Key Takeaways

  • Bokeh is influenced by factors such as lens aperture, lens shape, and shooting mode.
  • To achieve a prominent bokeh effect, use a lens with a wide aperture (at least f/2.8).
  • The shape of the bokeh highlights can be influenced by the shape of the lens blades.
  • Increasing the distance between the subject and the background enhances the bokeh effect.
  • Lighting plays a crucial role in creating visible bokeh, using backlights or side lights can enhance the effect.
  • Close-up shots of flowers, holiday lights, or cityscapes at night are ideal for showcasing bokeh.
  • To reduce the bokeh effect, use a higher f-stop value and ensure sufficient lighting.
  • Positioning the subject close to the light source or background can reduce the bokeh effect.
  • Shutter speed affects the brightness of the photo and enables freezing or blurring of motion.
  • Slow shutter speeds create motion blur, while fast shutter speeds freeze action.
  • Shutter speed is essential for capturing subjects in dim environments, photographing starry skies, and freezing fast-moving objects like birds.

What affects bokeh?

Here are some of the things that affect bokeh:

  • To achieve bokeh in an image, you will need a fast lens – the faster, the better. You will at least need an f/2.8 aperture if you want a visible bokeh.
  • The lens is used to determine the size of the visible bokeh. If your lens has more circular-shaped blades, then your bokeh will have rounder, softer orbs, whereas a lens that is more hexagonal will reflect that shape in the bokeh highlights.
  • Shooting in aperture priority mode or manual mode affects bokeh. Manual mode allows you to choose both your aperture and shutter speed. Aperture priority mode allows you to choose the f/stop while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed.

How do you increase your bokeh effect?

To increase the bokeh effect in your photo, increase the distance between your subject and the background. You can do this by decreasing the distance between the camera and the subject.

The lower your depth of field will be or further the background is, the more out of focus it will be. If you want larger orbs of light, you will need to place the subject a little bit close to the light source. If you want smaller orbs of light, put more distance between the subject and the background.

You can use a backlight or a side light or a hair light to create the highlights that would be hitting the background. This will show more visible bokeh and the effect will be pleasing to the eye.

Close-up and macro images of flowers and other objects in nature show off bokeh in an image very well. Another extreme example of bokeh is photographing a grouping of holiday lights or other highly reflective objects.

Christmas lights are an easy way to achieve that “out of focus” blur and add a good bokeh to an image any time of the year. Other than the Christmas lights, the cityscape at night or the evening sun filtering through some trees would give the same effect.

this photo of a flower utilizes the bokeh effect
this sparkler photo is another great example of bokeh

How do you reduce the bokeh effect?

To reduce the bokeh effect in sufficient lighting, bump up the f/stop to a higher value and your bokeh effect will decrease.

Other factors that will reduce your bokeh effect are –

  • Insufficient light source.
  • If you position your subject very close to the light source, or directly in front of the background or leaning up against it, it will reduce the bokeh effect.
  • Don’t set your aperture settings to a wide aperture. Choose a high f-number to reduce the bokeh effect on your photo.

What does shutter speed affect?

Shutter speed is responsible for two main things – changing the brightness of the photo and creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion.

Longer shutter speeds or slow shutter speeds produce motion blur. This effect is mainly used for the advertisement of cars and motorbikes where a sense of speed and motion is communicated by blurring the moving vehicle.

Slow shutter speeds are also used to photograph the milky way, other objects at night, and dim environments with the help of a tripod, rivers and waterfalls.

Faster shutter speeds freeze motion. You can eliminate motion even from fast-moving objects, like birds in flight.

The other important effect of shutter speed is exposure. If you use a longer shutter speed, the resulting photo will be quite bright. If you use a faster shutter speed, the resulting photo will be darker.

More: Best Swirly Bokeh lens


As we conclude our exploration of bokeh, it becomes evident that this magical technique holds universal appeal among photographers of all levels. Its simplicity in principle makes it accessible to beginners while offering endless possibilities for seasoned professionals.

Whether you’re capturing portraits, still life, or breathtaking landscapes, bokeh has the power to elevate your imagery and evoke emotions in the viewer. So, what are you waiting for? Step into the world of bokeh and unlock a realm of artistic expression. Let your creativity flourish as you master the interplay of light, aperture, and focus, weaving enchanting bokeh into your visual narratives.

Grab your camera, embrace the bokeh technique, and let your photographs tell captivating stories that resonate with the hearts and minds of your audience. The journey awaits you, so start shooting and paint your world with the ethereal beauty of bokeh.