Reverse Bokeh

edited July 2013 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
Is there such a thing as reverse Bokeh? I am trying to photograph an american flag in the background with sea oats in the foreground. I was hoping for the sea oats to be blurred out with the flag in focus in the background, but I am having trouble achieving those results (the whole picture is blurred). I know it is a matter of changing settings. I have a D3100, kit lens, and 55-200mm zoom. I believe I was using the 55-200mm at the time.

For the record, I am a newbie amateur photographer. This is my first post here! I have only had my D3100 for a month or so, and still have a lot to learn. I understand the uses behind aperture and f-stop, I just don't know what settings to use with what I have in my possession.

Thanks a bunch! :-)
I'm grateful to have found this forum; lots of good stuff here!



  • edited July 2013
    Use a wide aperture, say f/3.5 or f/4. Zoom or position yourself fairly close to the oats, say 5 feet. Now make sure that your focus points are only on the flag. I don't know the D3100, but it may be possible to select just the centre AF point. This should give you the effect you want.
    Regards, PBked
  • edited July 2013
    Hello Darcy,

    As PBked said, use wide apertures in order to achieve narrow depth of field. Additionally, get close to the oats so the relative distance between the oats and the flag increase.

    About the focus, use these settings:

    Focus points: single-point AF (you select the focus point)

    Focus mode: AF-S (focus is locked when shutter button is pressed halfway)

    You can learn more about focus at:

    You just need to focus on the flag.

    If your lens doesn't have focus motor (if it is AF instead of AF-S), then you will need to manually focus using the focus ring.

  • edited August 2013
    Thank you for the advice. I tried it and I still think I wasn't doing something right. It looked better than the first one I tried, but still a bit out of focus. I will keep trying next time we are at the beach, that is! ;-)
  • edited March 2018
    Hi, Use widest aperture possible. Move as close as possible to subject. Make sure you are shooting in auto focus mode, instead of manual mode you can try shooting in Aperture priority mode. Set your aperture to widest possible, that is minimum possible value. This will give you the possible effect using your lens.
    To get the better effect you can try 1.8F 50mm prime lens.
  • If there's a fair distance between the flag and the foreground, this should not be too hard, but you will have to make sure that your focus point is on the flag, and the long lens should provide shallow enough depth of field.

    As suggested above, put it in A mode, use a wide aperture, and make sure that the AF is set to a single point, and since the flag is staying in one place, use single servo (AFS) mode. If you want the flag to be off center in the composition, you can focus on it, then, with button half-pressed, move the camera to improve the composition, or move the focus point itself. Make sure you do not accidentally move the focus point. It's easy to do with the rear control, which does not lock. Use the [OK] button to recenter it.

    If the flag is fairly small in the camera's field, the AF point may be larger than the flag, and may try to focus on the sky behind. You may have to try a few shots, refocusing a few times, to make it hit the flag perfectly, or switch to manual focus to correct it.

    If the scene is a beach scene and very bright, the camera's meter might tend to silhoutette the flag, trying to get the rest of the scene right. When you do this, I'd suggest you bracket your exposures. This camera does not have an automatic bracketing function, but you can basically do the exposure as the meter suggests, then try the same shot with exposure compensation. Chances are you won't need to cut it any finer than a stop at a time, so try first a straight shot, then +1, +2, -1 and -2. You'll have a five stop bracket then, and plenty to choose from.

    You can also try spot metering on the flag, but bracketing should work too.
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