Working with the backgrounds – natural bokeh

Hello my friends! Hope you all are doing great!

I’ve got quite a few requests about how I create bokeh in my photos. The process is pretty simple, but I thought I’d write down more details with some behind the scene shots, also I’ve included a little video showing how the bokeh takes form in a 50mm lens, hope you’ll like it 🙂

For this I’ve used a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens. This is the lens I use almost everytime. It creates some amazing bokeh while producing a sharp focus.

The camera setup:

First thing to do for creating bokeh is to set your F number as low as possible, like f/1.8 or even f/1.4. The bigger your aperture the more smooth and round shape bokeh you’ll get. Here’s an image to show how bokeh shapes looks different by changing the F number.


The Setup:

Here I’m showing a process of how I create my outdoor bokeh shots. I’ve used my little red vespa as the subject, and shot this in my balcony where there’s a great source of natural bokeh in the background.

Now some things I need to keep in my mind when I shoot this type of photos. First of all the sunlight. I need the sunlight in the background and better if it’s shining through some object, for example tree leaves. That will create the shapes and also will add interests to my images. But I need to make sure that the sunlight isn’t too harsh, that will be distracting and will take eyes away from my subject. This is the reason why I always shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. Here’s a photo to show you what’ll be the result if the sunlight is too bright.


you can see that the bokeh is too bright and a bit distracting, also there’s a chance of having colour banding in the time of post-processing. So study your background and light, experiment with different angles and see what works the best.

Also I need to make sure that my subject is well lit, because there’s sunlight in the background I need a reflector or some source of light that can light my subject. I choose a corner of my balcony where there’s plenty of natural light available, the distant trees in the background make the sunlight shine through and also there’s a white apartment building in front of my balcony which acts as a natural source of reflector.

Here are some setup shots to explain the process :

DSC_0104  setup2


Now that the setup is done I go for shooting. I shoot with different angles to see how the background looks. I think it’s always nice to have more photos to choose from when I finish taking photos of the same object. Also, another thing to remember is the distance between your subject and background objects. The more your subject is in distant with the background the more smooth and blurred background you’ll get.

So now that I got my shot, lets go to the editing part to make the bokeh stand out a bit more.

I start by doing regular process like colour correction, adjusting the contrast and stuffs. I’ll write down more details about the toning in future posts, right now I’m going straight to the bokeh part.

Now I’ve already got the desired bokeh in camera, so I’m just going to enhance it a little more to add some fun and lighting effects. So here’s my edited photo before adding the lighting effect :


Now I’m going to add some lights in my photo. Also I’m doing this to make those round edges a bit more soft to blend well with the background.

I’m creating a new layer in photoshop, then selecting the Gradient tool. Then I open the gradient editor and choose the ”Foreground to transparent” option and click ok. Then i choose the ”radial gradient” option from the gradient menu, and I like to keep the gradient opacity between 50-60% so that i don’t overdo anything. After that I select a foreground colour. I want to add some warm lights so I’m choosing a reddish-orange colour. Then i just drag my mouse to those big round shapes in the background and after that I change the blending mode of the layer to the screen mode and down the opacity a bit so that it doesn’t look overdone. I can always add more lights by doing so until I get the desired look. And That’s it. This is totally optional and just how I like to do for my images, you can experiment with other adjustment layers and options as you wish.

pr1 copy




pr4 copy





And I’m done.


I hope you like this behind the scene story. If you have any question please feel free to ask, also if you have any tips or story about your process please so share with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Wish you all a very happy weekends!


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