Recreate the Bokeh Effect

Tutorial: Recreate the bokeh effect using Photoshop

Half a decade ago we went on an evening walk where we shot some photos.  Unfortunately a lot of the pictures are out of focus and/or the exposure is wrong. The camera I used at the time was good, but not good enough: for example the view screen was small and the camera had a lot of noise at high ISO levels. I didn’t have a tripod either, but the main problem was (and I’ll honestly admit this) that my photographic skills at the time just weren’t good enough to capture the photos the way I pictured them in my mind.

Later I’ve become much better at photographing in low-lights and hopefully I’ve also improved my photography skills in general, so if I were to go back and shoot the same photos today, the photographic results would have been much better. Perhaps I’ll do that some day, but for now I’m stuck with the photos that I do have – some of which are good, some ok and the rest is poor.

Still, even the useless photos aren’t totally useless. Here I’ve used Photoshop to recreate the bokeh effect in order to enhance some pictures from that night. Click the images in the gallery to see descriptions of the process on each single photo:

The Method:

  • Find a photo that’s suitable for bokeh. Preferrably a dark photo with some citylights in it.
  • With your desired image open in photoshop choose ‘Filter – Blur – Field Blur’ from the menu.
  • Hook off for bokeh and adjust the settings to your taste. (I also added a Brightness/Contrast layer before I flattened the image.)
  • Then place a photo with your model on top of your bokeh iamge. Resize and place it to your liking.
  • Create a selection and remove the parts that you don’t want to keep on the model photo (that would be everything except the model).
  • Flatten the image and save as a copy.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the tutorial. Questions or comments? Feel free to use the comment section.

Here’s one blogger that I know loves the bokeh effect:
http://facesplacespaces.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/bokeh/

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18 thoughts on “Recreate the Bokeh Effect

  1. Thanks for linking my post here! I saw ‘Bokeh’ and I came running 😀
    And this thing you did with the not-so-good shots… it’s fantastic is what it is. Your tutorials make me feel perhaps Photoshop is not as mighty a monster as I believe it to. Perhaps I should try it some time soon. 🙂

  2. As an old photographer I STILL avoid those kind of photos. Jeg kan ikke lave de billeder idag for det byder mod de principper jeg lærte som fotograf 😛 – men det er sjovt at lave i Photoshop …

  3. Det er altså meget meget mærkeligt at jeg ikke kunne logge ind på min wordpress konto her så jeg brugte min FB.. ting sker som jeg er ved at blive …gggrrrrr over..

  4. This is so very generous of you CG. I am sticking with lightroom for now, but I were to try out your tips in PS, I will make sure to tell you if it worked for me 🙂 Thank you.

  5. Pingback: How to Photograph Animals: by a Professional Stock Photographer | Cotton Ridge Create!

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