The quality of the Bokeh effect depends on the quality of the lens you use. Expensive lenses provide large apertures and help you achieve a shallow depth of field. Furthermore, you can choose the focal length of the lens and switch between wide-angle and telephoto lenses whenever you want. They also create round-shaped patterns of out-of-focus highlights that blend smoothly. On the other hand, smartphone cameras have wide-angle lenses, small sensors, and, some of them don’t let you set the aperture. So how could you possibly create a beautiful Bokeh effect with a smartphone camera?
Achieve a shallow depth of field via camera position
The first challenge is to achieve a shallow depth of field so that you can have a blurred background. If your smartphone allows it, set the largest aperture possible. f/2.8 will be great. If can’t set the aperture, place the camera as close as possible to the subject. It also helps if you put a long distance between subject and background. The good news is that a smartphone camera is easy to maneuver. Move the camera around the subject until you find the best shooting angle.
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Achieve a shallow depth of field via software
Some smartphones provide features that blur a part of the frame via software. They aren’t designed for the Bokeh effect but you can use them to achieve a shallow depth of field. The most popular feature is the Portrait Mode, which blurs the area around a central subject. Advanced smartphones recognize people and faces automatically. Another feature you can use is Selective Focus, which lets you choose the area you want in focus and blurs everything else.
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Use a Bokeh app
You can also find dedicated apps for iOS and Android that create the Bokeh effect in post-processing. Apps such as Snapseed, AfterFocus, Bokeh Lens, Bokeh Photo Editor, Bokeh Camera, Auto Blur Background, Focus, and the mobile version of Lightroom allow you to select the area in focus, the intensity of the blur, and even the shape of the Bokeh pattern. They’re easy to use and you don’t have to download the photos to apply the effect. For creative effects and Instagram pictures, apps work perfectly.
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The Bokeh effect creates an atmosphere and adds a new dimension to your smartphone pictures. It creates a sense of depth and makes the subject stand out. Nevertheless, keep in mind that your photos should look natural. Apply subtle special effects and only where they help you create a stronger visual story.
Cover photo by Aleksandar Popovski on Unsplash