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The best approach to creating bokeh images, particularly for the first time, is to read a number of articles and get some ideas and techniques from other photographers. Several articles are available here so take a few minutes to read through them before making a start with a camera. The next task is to decide what you are hoping to achieve. This article is entitled "Creating bokeh images" because it is assumed that the reader wishes to use good bokeh as the subject of the images - or at least a major element of composition. Bokeh can be found in many images, although often in a subordinate or supporting role. Here the intention is to use good bokeh as a principal element of composition.

A few initial guidelines are:

  • Use a large aperture, such as f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8 or f/2, although worthwhile results can also be obtained with smaller apetures (f/2.8, f/4 etc), and set the camera to aperture priority.
  • If using a zoom lens, extend the focal length to maximum and approach the subject as closely as possible whilst remaining distant from the background. If shutter speed is a problem, use a tripod to keep the camera stable and in low light increase the ISO rating where necessary.
  • If you want to produce creatively shaped out-of-focus highlights, make a black-card lens cover to fit tightly over the lens aperture and then cut an appropriately shaped aperture in the centre of the lens cover.
  • If you don't have a particular subject in mind, try photographing some Christmas-tree lights against a dark background to get started.
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