AJ Franklin PRO 9:02pm, 18 January 2007
Bokeh describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light.

Bokeh is different from sharpness. Sharpness is what happens at the point of best focus. Bokeh is what happens away from the point of best focus.

Bokeh describes the appearance or "feel" of out-of-focus backgrounds and foregrounds.

Unfortunately the good bokeh doesn't happen automatically in lens design. Perfect lenses render out-of-focus points of light as circles with sharp edges. Ideal bokeh would render each of these points as blurs, not hard-edged circles. Mathematicians would say the intensity distribution of the blur circles are rectangular in perfect lenses, and good bokeh would prefer a Gaussian distribution. This is one area in which physics doesn't mirror what we want artistically.

Differing amounts of spherical aberration alter how lenses render out-of-focus points of light, and thus their bokeh. The word "bokeh" comes from the Japanese word "boke" (pronounced bo-keh) which literally means fuzziness or dizziness.

Thanks to Ken Rockwell for this definition of one of the goals of many styles of critical photography.

If you have some particularly good examples of BOKEH, please post them in this thread (not a contest)! To avoid confusion, if you post several, up to 5, photos, please keep them in the same topic window by choosing to "edit" your first post, rather than opening several different windows. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just don't worry about it ;-)) Comments are very welcome!

This is also a chance to learn from others. If you are not sure if your shot has "bokeh" or how good the bokeh appears, just ask the question when you post the shot and some of our members will probably help you out. Show us your bokeh!
Dr_Watso 11 years ago

How's this?
AJ Franklin PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by AJ Franklin (admin) 11 years ago
I think this has some bokeh...The thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between Gaussian blur and bokeh. I think it is a fine line but it is there nonetheless. Dr. Watso, IMHO you exhibit more of the blur than the bokeh. But that is why I started this thread--to explore the differences!

Now this one IS Gaussian Blur:
Cleo holds her licker!
Dr_Watso Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Dr_Watso (member) 11 years ago
Bokeh is a term used to describe the "out of focus" parts of a photo, depending on the lens, the distance, and apeture used, the amount of "blur" in that bokeh will vary greatly. Perhaps I mis-understood what you meant. You're looking for very strong blur I think.

Basically, bokeh is blur.
Dzwjedziak 11 years ago
Droplet #1
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
Dr. Watso, my understanding of bokeh is that it is blurred outlines of background items, rather than simply a blurred background. I haven't seen too many serious discussions of this concept on Flickr, which is why I opened it up to our erudite photogs. Let's see what others post and how they define it...(hopefully...)
Dr_Watso Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Dr_Watso (member) 11 years ago
"In photography, Bokeh is a Japanese word - the transliteration of a Japanese word for "blur" - describing the subjective aesthetic quality of out-of-focus areas of an image projected by a camera lens. For example, in some images the background may be deliberately caused to be out-of-focus to reduce distractions and to emphasize the primary subject."

It's a rather loose term actually, but in general, it refers to the out of focus areas in a photo, as produced by the Depth of Feild.

For me, I like a nice bokeh when you can still make out certain objects in it, but lots of folks prefer blur to the extreme, and the bokeh turns into a mix of color or tone... At any rate, it's one of my favorite tools to use when composing my photographs!
hales. 11 years ago
Interesting Flower
Carla Finley PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Carla Finley (member) 11 years ago
Golden-winged Skimmer
Chipping Sparrow
mikallakim 11 years ago
based on my understanding of the concept of bokeh and dof, here are a couple of mine.....
macro grass grass porthole winter water
buckskinfilly 11 years ago
How's this then? Not sure if this fits in.

Field weeds
mikallakim 11 years ago
i think it does, buckskin, at least based upon my understanding of the concept! ;)
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
I'm seeing a lot of bokeh here!
Dixie Native PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Dixie Native (member) 11 years ago
right or wrong, here's my understanding of it


Sweetgum  (Liquidambar styraciflua)

blue dragon

male Northern Cardinal

dew drops
jojoandrada Posted 11 years ago. Edited by jojoandrada (member) 11 years ago
White Flower - To All the Ladies of Flickr

Back to Flowers


Bokeh is a great way to make the main subject stand out :-)

Cheers !
Brian Catacutan PRO 11 years ago
5ive toes, 1ne Snail
andrewlee1967 Posted 11 years ago. Edited by andrewlee1967 (member) 11 years ago

Wrist Watch

Door Plant ?
Bec Thomas Photography 11 years ago
This is good Bokeh

Sparrow in the Snow

This is bad Bokeh

Purple Shroom

And this has a great DOF but isn't a bokeh

Yellow Mum
HW.Wang PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by HW.Wang (member) 11 years ago

macropoulos 11 years ago
Overlooking the pond
mikallakim 11 years ago
duvina- please explain the difference between the good and bad bokeh - what distinguishes "good" from "bad"??? i can see subtle differences between your two examples but want to be sure that i am getting the right idea....
Cobra064 11 years ago
Common Haircap moss with spores (Polytrichum commune)

Jan van Gent (Morus bassanus)

in both examples is the background nice and blurry
Dr_Watso 11 years ago
@ mikallakim:

I'll answer for Duvina... Most people think that the "ideal" bokeh is nice and smooth, free of aberations and distortion, and also isn't a distraction to the main photo subject. It has a lot to do with the lens being used, but also the technique used.
dbarronoss 11 years ago
So does this sort of thing(below) qualify as bokeh or just a nice out of focus blurred background (confusion...still):
Gas and go!
Dr_Watso 11 years ago
It's not a matter of "qualifying". Bokeh is a term for the out of focus areas in a photograph contrasting the sharp areas. So yes, that's bokeh.
kithg 11 years ago
I always liked the bokeh on this shot.
Eurasion Eagle Owl
On this one, I controlled the out of focus area carefully, so I could see it clearly, but it would not distract from the subject, the bird:
Bec Thomas Photography Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Bec Thomas Photography (member) 11 years ago
In the shot I labeled as bad you will notice the background is distracting from the main focus of the image. when the background is distracting it is a bad bokeh. Here is yet another link that kinda breaks it down into simple terms and the difference between good and bad
Te Awanga-NZ 11 years ago
transvox PRO 11 years ago
Solanum-blossomOld eyes in a young headLadybird
Te Awanga-NZ 11 years ago
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
@dbaroness..your cardinal sits in front of a background with no distinguishable detail. I would say that is not bokeh...just blur.
@Cobra064 your first shot is a good example of bokeh since the little details in the background are "dizzy" or just out of focus with no sharp edges while there is no bokeh in the swan shot. (IMO)
@kithg I agree with your analysis
@bigshot2007 your goose shot develops bokeh just past the point of blurred focus and the bokeh continues into the distance. but your hummingbird has only the faintest bokeh that may be only blur >g<
I'm sure others have some more to add to this very interesting thread.
Cobra064 11 years ago
@AJ Flanklin. The "swan" is actualy a Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus). Sorry ;-)
There is brokeh in this shot, only it's a bit hard to see because the background is made of a dark kind of rock.
Brokeh or not? that's the question?
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
@Cobra...Well one thing everyone agrees on is, it is hard to agree on what and where there is bokeh! But the conversation is important to serious photogs and I'm happy to see so many outspoken responses and examples here in this thread.
Bret Okc PRO 11 years ago
Bret Okc PRO 11 years ago
Snow on the Firethorn bush
rverspirit 11 years ago
-dror- PRO 11 years ago
tanakawho PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by tanakawho (member) 11 years ago
I like the way the blurry image of a full flower is on the background while a clear bud is on the front.
Cosmos bud
Is this bokeh?

Beaded flower
Badger Badger Studios Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Badger Badger Studios (member) 11 years ago
@marlaine. Yes.

@all - my favourite bokeh shots are those where the bokeh contains shapes similar to those contained in the focussed area of the photo.

Two Red Tailed Bumblebees
Pied Shield Bug
gira 11 years ago
I don't have a lot of bokeh shots, but here are a couple:

Just Ichabod's head in focus:

And again, just Figaro's face in focus:
Ol' Blue Eyes
lemank 11 years ago
spd2224 11 years ago
the furry red weed
gustaf wallen PRO 11 years ago
Slightly Imperfect
ion-bogdan dumitrescu PRO 11 years ago
i am still confused a little about the difference between bokeh and dof.. i guess these following 2 qualify more for dof?!
another match point pink surprise
full bird [deleted] 11 years ago
Summer Zing

The Torch of Hope
You tube addiction
AJ Franklin PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by AJ Franklin (admin) 11 years ago
@bitzi I would tend to agree that you have more DOF than bokeh, although if there were more background surface visible that opinion might change. It's hard to see bokeh when most of the background is obscured.
@gira...maybe if more of your background were visible, you would have bokeh. It is an element of the background, don't you agree?
@Spoonlicks I think you have great bokeh on both shots!
@tommok your purple flower would exhibit more bokeh than the other one, right?
@untamed heart...refer to Te Awanga's shot of young birds, above. There you have a repeating image that is 'out of focus' and becomes bokeh. Although your shot has bokeh, as do many others, I feel that Te Awanga's birds and Carla Finley's second shot and even the one I posted display bokeh in a more 'textbook' fashion. It is an important concept and one that needs to be discussed so as to distinguish it from simple DOF.

I'm leaving this thread open so we can get even more shots and share more ideas on this subject!


hilarious stove [deleted] 11 years ago
Lily (by B G)

Free ride (by B G)

Packed into web (by B G)
MrClean1982 PRO 11 years ago
Monarch Caterpillar
cosmicsailor PRO 11 years ago
Here are a few I like
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)
Jay with Attitude
birdtoes Posted 11 years ago. Edited by birdtoes (member) 11 years ago
Pretty Curly Plant Thingy

This one is So-keh :)
For 365 Days - Day 55 - Sok-eh

The Tree Says Hello to Me

The Bug at the Edge of the World
Marlowpics/ Anna PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Marlowpics/ Anna (member) 11 years ago

Badbury Blossom

I'm so up to date aren't I?! Just noticed how old this thread is! :-) I was searching for BOKEH information as it's a term I kept noticing but didn't understand!
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
Marlo you have some very nice bokeh in both shots, IMHO!
Awesome in the Sunlight
orange letters [deleted] 11 years ago
April Bloom

Vintage Horror
jay j wilkie Posted 11 years ago. Edited by jay j wilkie (member) 11 years ago
dof guitar .

i really like the foreground and background bokeh in this shot .
!!Kelly!! 11 years ago
AJ Franklin PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by AJ Franklin (admin) 11 years ago
Rebel XTasy and dawholagn have some highly emphasized bokeh for sure. The other shots are certainly worthy competitors, as Jay Wilkie's has some tight focus that works really well.

Keep the bokeh rolling in, and please take this space to discuss what you see in other's shots.


bdec PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by bdec (member) 11 years ago
Morning Dance

Depth of Fear

Holding On

Thrive - to grow vigorously; flourish

instinctive humor [deleted] 11 years ago
Your shots are so great -- makes mine pale in comparison

Take that !!
AJ Franklin PRO 11 years ago
Alceu Bap PRO 11 years ago
As long as I know, bokeh is about the way the highlights grow and burn when out of focus, and not simply about defocus (maybe I´m wrong). Like in this picture. Actually, this is an example of BAD bokeh, Too sharp to be pleasant.

Av Paulista, or.. Tokyo, SP, Brazil
Blue Dragon
Bret Okc PRO 11 years ago
Pyracantha Nivis
Goat Pixel PRO 10 years ago
Lolgoat anyone?
f0rbe5 PRO 9 years ago
I believe this shows good bokeh.
Red Panda
D. C. Elliott 9 years ago
I have a number that fit the bill with different subject material:

Cranberry Cove Barrens VIII

Christmas Light Bokeh

Poppy and Post III

Sunlit Vine Study III

Trident Maple Study II
kingplopi 8 years ago
Leaves of Tomorrow by kingplopi

comments please..
dennisTruephotography 7 years ago
how's this?

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