Nikon Americas USA

121ArticlesRemaining

4.0 Rating
When Center Composition can Elevate a Portrait

Tamara Lackey on portrait composition

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Understanding Focal Length

Focal length, usually represented in millimeters (mm), is the basic description of a…

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.0 Rating
Photograph Family and Friends During the Holidays

The holidays are prime picture-taking time. Get some great tips on…

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Understanding Maximum Aperture

Learn how aperture affects the end-result image.

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Tips For Making Tempting Food Photos

Alison Lyons offers simple tips for taking great photos of food & drink

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Live Image Control

Live Image Control lets you preview how certain settings will affect your final image

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
How to Choose Your Next Nikon 1 Lens

Go beyond your Nikon 1 camera's kit lens

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Composing Photographs

Tips for making better compositions when photographing in the field

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
When to Use Graduated Neutral Density Filters

How to use a graduated neutral density filter to decrease extreme light to…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Jim Richardson: Why Fast Lenses Make All the Difference

When You’re Constantly on the Move, Fast Glass Makes Tough Shots…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
How-To Take Great Photos at the Aquarium

Tips for photographing the fish and creatures that live under water

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.1 Rating
Taking Pictures at Dusk and at Night

How do I take pictures at dusk and at night?

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
5.0 Rating
Mentor Trekking in Costa Rica with Bill Durrence

A Mentor Series instructor leads a group of photo trekkers through the…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
A Basic Look at the Basics of Exposure

The relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO is the basis of every…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
How to Take Pictures of Water Using Long Exposures

Getting that "silky" look when photographing moving water isn't…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Introduction to ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed & Other Advanced Settings for HDSLR Video

Advanced settings for HDSLR video

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
High Dynamic Range Photography

Why and How to Shoot HDR Images

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Which NIKKOR Lens Type is Right for Your DSLR?

Learn what the different types of NIKKOR lenses are and which ones will…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Using Teleconverters

Teleconverters let you extend your photographic reach

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Using legacy NIKKOR lenses with the Nikon Df

How to set the Df to accept legacy Non-Ai or Ai lenses

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
How to Capture the “Wow” Factor

Photographer Evan Williams on shooting stunning photographs

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Photographing Sports Indoors and Out

Capturing the action of a sporting event is easy when you follow a few simple…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.1 Rating
Taking Better Photographs of the American West

When you get a chance to visit the open prairies, and photograph ranchers…

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.8 Rating
For Images with Impact, Consider the Positive Role of Negative Space

Randy Ziegler discusses negative space in…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.0 Rating
ISO Control

For digital photography, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera's sensor. The ISO setting is one of…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
One Shot: Crop Factor

Carol Freeman field tests the new AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.1 Rating
New Directions: The D750 Inspires Creating, and Sharing, New Images

Lindsay Silverman shoots with the D750 DSLR

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Extra-low Dispersion Glass

ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass is the result of an alternative glass manufacturing technology…

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Capturing or Freezing Motion in Photos

Learn how to freeze the motion in an action scene or capture a blur to show…

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.1 Rating
Tips for Photographing Birds

Birds make great subjects for photographs; tips for capturing them with your camera.

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Versatile Views of the World of Wildlife:

Ron Magill field tests the AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Macro Photography Tips: Photographing Insects and Other Small Creatures

A few quick tips on macro photography

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.5 Rating
Take Better Portraits

Tips for taking a good portrait photo

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
Zoo and Wildlife Photography

Spend a day at the zoo with wildlife photographer Julie Larsen Maher

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.8 Rating
A Light in the Forest

Rod Planck on photographing critters in the field with a Speedlight

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
5.0 Rating
A Nikon Ambassador's Photography in Cuba

Vincent Versace on photographing the culture and people of Cuba

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.7 Rating
Basics of Exposure and Camera Controls

Ideal class for those who want to go beyond point & shoot photography

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Using Variable Neutral Density Filters to Adjust Exposure in DSLR Video

Adjusting exposure with Variable ND filters

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
When You Explore All Angles, Better Pictures Happen

Tom Bol explains how changing perspective can make a better image.

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
FOCUS First: A System for Better Photos

Mark Alberhasky's 5 step system for taking better pictures

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
High Speed Sync: A Flash Technique To Add a Pro Touch to Your Photographs

Kevin Kubota on auto FP high speed sync flash…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.7 Rating
Night Photography

Reed Hoffmann's tips for great night photography

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.4 Rating
How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

Learn the techniques needed to shoot solar eclipses from Mr. Eclipse, Fred Espenak

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.3 Rating
Exposure Bracketing: The Creative Insurance Policy

Get creative with your photography by using this age-old technique.

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
3.6 Rating
Learning How to Use Your Camera's Histogram

The histogram is a useful tool that analyzes tonal range and helps in…

Advanced

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.6 Rating
Using the Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode

When to use the D810 and D750's highlight-weighted metering

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.0 Rating
One Shot: Purple Haze

Turning an ordinary photo into something special in-camera

Beginner

NEW
Read
Viewing
4.2 Rating
Top Photography Tips from Nikon School Instructors

Learn photography the easy way, at Nikon School

NEW
Read
Viewing

Bokeh for Beginners

Bokeh comes from the Japanese word boke (ボケ), which means "blur" or "haze", or boke-aji, the "blur quality." Bokeh is pronounced BOH-Kə or BOH-kay.

Visit any photography website or forum and you’ll find plenty of folks debating the pleasing bokeh that their favorite fast lenses allow. Adjectives that describe bokeh include: smooth, incredible, superb, good, beautiful, sweet, silky, and excellent… but what exactly is it?

Bokeh is defined as “the effect of a soft out-of-focus background that you get when shooting a subject, using a fast lens, at the widest aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider.” Simply put, bokeh is the pleasing or aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph.

Although bokeh is actually a characteristic of a photograph, the lens used determines the shape and size of the visible bokeh. Usually seen more in highlights, bokeh is affected by the shape of the diaphragm blades (the aperture) of the lens. A lens with more circular shaped blades will have rounder, softer orbs of out-of-focus highlights, whereas a lens with an aperture that is more hexagonal in shape will reflect that shape in the highlights.


Achieving Bokeh in Your Images

To achieve bokeh in an image, you need to use a fast lens—the faster the better. You’ll want to use a lens with at least an f/2.8 aperture, with faster apertures of f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 being ideal. Many photographers like to use fast prime lenses when shooting photographs that they want visible bokeh in.

You’ll want to shoot with the lens wide open, so you’ll want to use a shooting mode of Aperture Priority or Manual. Manual gives you the ability to choose both your aperture and shutter speed, whereas Aperture Priority allows you to choose the f/stop while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed for the exposure. You could also use the Flexible Program mode, choosing the widest possible aperture/shutter speed combination.

Don't worry if you don't own a very fast lens. By increasing the distance between the background and your subject, you can see bokeh in images that are shot at smaller apertures like f/8.

To increase the likelihood of visible bokeh in your photographs, increase the distance between your subject and the background. You can do this by decreasing the distance between the camera and subject. The more shallow the depth-of-field, or further the background is, the more out-of-focus it will be. Highlights hitting the background will show more visible bokeh too, so if you’re using a backlight, side light or a hair light, the bokeh may be more pleasing to the eye.

The most photographed subjects showing nice examples of bokeh are portraits. Close-up portraits show bokeh very well. Close-up and macro images of flowers and other objects in nature are also popular subjects to photograph that shows off bokeh in the image. An often-photographed subject that is an extreme example of bokeh is photographing a grouping of holiday lights or other highly reflective objects. When purposely photographed out-of-focus, these normally harsh or bright objects become soft, pastel, diffused orbs of glowing light.

Bokeh can add softness to an otherwise brightly lit photograph. Using this technique to separate your subject from the background can also allow you to utilize a not-so-photogenic background in your image—but because of its diffused blur, it helps to “highlight” the subject, not detract from it.