Why are my photos blurry?

Why are my photos blurry?

bokehYour photos aren’t blurry, the background is intentionally blurred and it’s called bokeh. A lot of professional portrait photographers love bokeh because it allows your focus to be on the subject, not the background. Usually, the background is not necessarily important or it might be a bit distracting to have the entire background in focus. 

Many photographers prefer a bokeh because they like a separation between the subject and the background. Bokeh looks best if it is creamy and shows very little detail. You can get an idea of the background but you don’t see details. 

Take this image of a chipmunk in the Rocky Mountain National park. He (or she) is in focus while the background hints at what is there but you can’t see the details of the tree and mountains.

bokehYou may also see a lot of Christmas lights referred to as bokeh. You will often see the lights as circles instead of the actual light. You may also see the lights in shapes, like stars or moons. Notice the light circles in the lower half of this Christmas tree image. The lights closer to the ornament are in focus but the ones further away look like blue circles instead.

Do you always go for bokeh?

No, a lot of times it depends on what you’re shooting and what you are looking to achieve. Traditional portraits can look amazing with a little background separation but in documentary photos, you might need the background to tell part of the story.  

Landscapes images almost always have most, if not all, of your image clear because you want to show a sense of place. There may be some bokehbokeh, depending on artistic aesthetic and what you want to be in focus, but in general, landscapes are all in focus. As demonstrated above with the chipmunk, some nature or wildlife images may use the bokeh effect. The bird in the image to the right has more in focus, but there is still a bit of a bokeh in the background. You can tell the bird is sitting in a bush, but the entire bush is not in focus.

Do you like the look of bokeh or do you prefer to have everything in focus?

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Landscape lover and memory maker. Addicted to coffee, books, and running. Gluten free for life (celiac disease). Vodka connoisseur. Can often be found having dance parties to 90s music. Based in Phoenix, Arizona but always want to move to where I most recently visited.

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