Trying to shoot Bokeh on children

edited December 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3100 Forum
I am new at all of this so I am a little lost when trying to find tips on how to shoot Bokeh lighting with my children. What settings would I use for this? Also, all the tutorials I have seen, the aperture calls for 1.8 and I can't get mine to go below 5.


  • edited December 2016
    The aperture available will vary with what lens you have. If you have the kit lens, it will not open wider than f/3.5 at the widest end, and f/5.6 at the longest.

    Your best bet for bokeh, assuming you cannot afford (or can't get a hold of in time) a faster lens, is to use the longest focal length of the kit lens, or a medium setting if you have a second tele-zoom lens such as the 55-200mm. When you get up over about 80mm you'll find out of focus blur pretty easy to achieve even at relatively small apertures.

    Open the lens aperture to the maximum available, and although that is less than might be optimal, it can work, if you're careful. The closer you get to your subject, the shallower the depth of field, so try to pull right in. The further away any background is, the better also, so try to place your subjects a fair distance from walls, trees, and other features that can be identified. The longer focal length does a couple of things. Along with making for shallower depth of field (i.e. more background and foreground blur) it also changes the size relationship between foreground and background. Background objects are larger relative to the subject, and placed right this can result in them becoming more abstract and less distracting.

    Try along with physically isolating your subjects, shooting from a lower angle, or sometimes from a much higher angle, so that instead of things directly behind your subject, you get what is beneath or above. If your subject is against the sky, he or she will be much more separated from the background than if against, say, a brick wall.

    Walk around your subject some if you can, to try to find background patterns that are least distracting, and to eliminate stray foreground objects such as branches and grass, which can be easy to miss until you see the picture later.

    And finally, don't forget that some portraits are best made without blur, but with a careful choice of objects that emphasize how the subject relates to the environment, or what the subject is about. I've thrown in samples of these from time to time here, but will mention, for example (you can google for them or just for "environmental portraiture"), Arnold Newman's famous and iconic portrait of Igor Stravinsky, in which the subject is seated at a grand piano, or the famous shot of the shipping magnate Isambard Kingdom Brunel, one of the first and most striking examples of the type.
Sign In or Register to comment.