The Complete Guide to Epic Foreground Bokeh

When we talk about bokeh, the majority of the photographers community immediately thinks of those gorgeous creamy out-of-focus backgrounds.

How It’s Done

What you need to be aware of is that foreground bokeh behaves like background bokeh. If you concentrate on your subject but there’s an element that is away in the background, that part is more off-focus than elements closer to the subject.

Lens Choice

After having an knowledge of how foreground bokeh can be achieved, it is important to know how the lens we choose can affect the final image. Like everything else in photography, the lens we pick is a major factor in the final photo. The first aspect we’ll examine is the focal length. Since we recognize that the more close the light is to the lens the bigger they appear and so we will examine the different effects that result from focal length that occurs when lights are put directly against the lens. 

Aperture plays a major impact on the way that bokeh looks. As in the previous example in which we’ve got the light sources pressed on the lens’s glass, and adjust the aperture, we will notice that the size decreases with increasing aperture. This is because the light sources are getting closer to the lens. This is an example of 35mm lens moving through f/1.4 to 2.8 and then f/5.6. The 35mm lens at f/5.6 is exactly like the 20mm lens at f/1.8.

Other Elements

The Christmas lights used to create this effect are fine and good during the winter months around the holiday season, but what happens the other months all year long? Or, what happens when you are tired of seeing Christmas light displays in every photo? The positive thing is that bokeh can be described as whatever it is constructed of. I chose to use lights from Christmas in these examples because we all know what they look like when in focus, making it easier to connect that information to the out-of-focus image. However, most of my foreground-boke photographs don’t have lighting at all. The majority of my photos that employ this effect are made using elements found in the area I’m photographing in.

This is done because of two reasons. The first reason is that it’s a pain to to carry around an assortment of objects that you are planning to put before your camera (I continue to do it, though much less than I did in the past). The other reason is that I would like whatever object I choose to use to be understood. The most effective way to get the object to be understood is to make use of something already present in the area. The most effective example is you shoot in the forest or an area park. There will be grass and trees as background, which is why it is logical to include grass and trees in the background.

What I’ve discovered was that the light source is the most important element. If the elements are in front of the lens, they can create an array of interesting effects. Similar to all instances where there is light added, the direction and location of the light will have an enormous impact on the final image. Backlighting a photo will give a distinct feel from lighting from the side or front. Here’s an example using backlight or the absence of any light. I don’t believe either image is superior to the other, but each have a different feeling due to the lighting, and this light can also affect the elements of the foreground.

Taking It Up a Notch

For this purpose, we’ve utilized Christmas lights, trees and even grass. However, there is an infinite variety of options when searching for other items. One of my most-loved items to look for is objects that sparkle and sparkling. A common example present at every wedding is a drink glass.

The advantage of glass drinking cups is the fact that they come in numerous types to choose from, and each one has an individual look.

Another common thing to come across are items that have glitter. These could be tablecloths that have sequins on them, or I’ve even worn the dress of a bridesmaid. Anything that is reflective in a unique way.

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