How to Photograph Bokeh

The effect of bokeh is to blur out the background and give a soft effect to your images. Works particularly well with lights. Some photographers say the technique is overrated but the result when photographed well can be a really effective technique. If you have never shot this method before, below are some quick simple starter tips.

  • For Bokeh, the faster the lens the better, so go wide on your aperture such as f/2.8
  • Basically the technique is to focus on something in the foreground so with the wide aperture the background will be blurry and out of focus
  • The further the distance between your focus subject (if you choose to include one) to the background, the greater the effect. Plus decrease the distance between yourself and the focal subject


An example of Bokeh Images below including settings

ISO 100.  f/2.8.  1/50 sec

How to Photograph In High Key

Photographing in high key gives a unique and airy feel to your photos. Basically the effect is that your image is exposed lighter than the mid tone ideal. That is, you are over exposing your image and minimising blacks and shadows. A high key image is mostly whites with very minimal black tones. Unlike low key images which are dramatic, high contrast and bold, a high key image has a bright soft and playful mood. It’s a very modern and popular technique at the moment. Once you are comfortable with shooting and exposing an image correctly, high key is a great way to push the boundaries and break the rules (so to speak). Some tips for shooting and editing high key images are as follows:

  • Choose a light background
  • Choose a wide aperture to open up the lens and allow plenty of light into the image.
  • A high key image has little depth and the shadows are almost eliminated
  • For portraits, you can use reflectors to fill the shadows with light. High key backgrounds can be really effective for portrait shooting
  • In post processing a high key image, start by firstly lowering the contrast

Some examples of High Key Images below including settings

1/800 second f/8.0 ISO 250
5 seconds f/22 ISO 50
1/80 second f/14.0 ISO 100
1/125 second f/9.0 ISO 200

How to Photograph Fireworks

It’s that festive time of year – normally anyway, where there are fireworks displays going on and you want to capture that perfect image.  I’m not one for watching long YouTube tutorials or reading drawn out methods so here’s some of my quick tips on getting started photographing fireworks.

There are different theories on the best settings to use for fireworks but it’s worth having a play around. As you will see in the 3 examples I have given, they vary in shutter speed from 4 sec right up to 30. Depending on how dark it is, I personally find it easier to shoot longer exposure as you get more fireworks in the shot. We usually know when fireworks are going to happen so it’s best to set up the tripod, set your camera and just keep shooting :

  • A really important thing as with any type of photo is to get your composition (aka vantage point) right and this is something you can plan ahead of time. Fireworks need to be the hero, but try and include as part of an interesting landscape theme
  • Always use a tripod as shutter speeds will always be slow with fireworks being at night
  • I find the optimal aperture around f/10
  • You will find that the longer the shutter speed, you will get the trails of the fireworks
  • On shutter speed, when I am shooting on a slow shutter speed, I usually use a remote release, or if you don’t have one, set the 2 second timer so that you eliminate any shake when pressing the shutter release button
  • Using a low ISO will reduce noise reduction
  • Never ever use a flash
  • I set the focus at infinity


Pic Settings
ISO 200
8 sec

Pic Settings

ISO 1000
4 sec

Pic Settings
ISO 50
30 sec