How to Create a Beautiful Bokeh Background

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Have you ever thought that a sheet of aluminium foil can be used as a backdrop in order to create stunning bokeh effect? Before we start talking about El Bokeh Wall and how it can be achieved, let us first get to know what exactly the term bokeh means.

Assuming that you may not be aware, bokeh is a term which comes from a Japanese word “boke”, which means blur. You can capture a photo with the blur effect, which makes the background out of focus by shooting at smaller aperture values (larger openings) such as f/1.8 or f/1.4.

Bokeh background or El Bokeh Wall

El Bokeh Wall is basically a technique in which you can capture a photo with the backdrop full of bokeh, which makes your photo eye-catching.

El bokeh background wall 01

Things required to prepare El Bokeh Wall:

  • An sheet of aluminium foil
  • A fast lens, an a maximum aperture of at least f/2.8 or larger
  • At least two speedlights or studio lights
  • A sheet of colored gel

Step 1

El bokeh wall - bokeh background

Take a sheet of aluminium foil long enough to fully cover the background in your frame. Now crumple the foil sheet gently and make a ball out of it, but do not press it too hard.

El bokeh wall - bokeh background

Step 2

Now open the foil ball that you just made and in doing so, make sure that you do not remove the crumples. These crumples on the aluminium foil sheet will be used to create the bokeh effect.

Simply lay the sheet on a flat surface and move your hand gently over it, without removing the wrinkles formed on the foil sheet.

El bokeh wall - bokeh background

Step 3

Once you have flattened the aluminium foil sheet, put it on the wall or hang it in such a manner that it fills the frame. Make sure that the crumples are evenly distributed and the sheet fills your entire frame in order to capture perfect results.

Step 4

Now place your subject in such a position that there is a gap of at least 2-3 feet between the foil sheet and the subject. This will allow you to capture shallow depth of field and make the background out of focus. In order to create a bokeh effect you need to allow some distance between the subject and the background.

Step 5

The last step is where you light up your subject and the foil sheet in order to create a well-lit photo. Start with lighting the aluminium foil sheet, you can either use a flash, studio light or even a table lamp. In order to make the bokeh appear colorful, you can place a colored gel in front of the light source.

El bokeh wall - bokeh background

Now light up the subject as per your desire. Make sure that the light source being used on the subject does not spill too much on the background which can make your background appear overexposed. This is another reason why you should maintain some distance from the background.

Some tips before you start clicking

Once you have positioned your subject and set up the lighting, take out your camera and start clicking. But before that, keep these tips in mind in order to capture a photo full of beautiful bokeh.

El bokeh wall - bokeh background

Try using a lens which allows you to shoot at low aperture value such as f/2.8 or f/1.8. The smaller the aperture value, the more bokeh effect you can achieve.

Use a telephoto lens with focal length of 50mm or more in order to get shallow depth of field and you will need a smaller foil sheet as well.

Using flash or studio lights will give you better control over the light and you can capture much better-quality results. On the other hand, if you are using a table lamp or a bulb, you might have to bump up the ISO sensitivity which will introduce noise.

Depending on the focal length of your lens, you might have to use multiple aluminium foil sheets in order to cover the frame completely with the el bokeh wall effect. Also, try and use 1-2 stops higher than the lowest available aperture value in order to get best quality bokeh.

Conclusion

This is an easy technique to create some stunning bokeh-licious images. Please share your questions, comments and bokeh background images in the section below.

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Kunal Malhotra

is a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi, India. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog. Some of his favorite genres of photography are product, street, fitness, and architecture.

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