Bokeh Effects in the Studio

Alicia-1

Inspired by some shots by awesome photographers Neil van Niekerk and Scott Chalmers, I wanted to create an interesting foreground bokeh effect when shooting with Alicia for our first shoot together….

Out of focus objects in the foreground or background in a shot can create interesting spots/shapes, the quality or pleasantness of which is described as ‘bokeh’.  Well rounded, smooth, shapes are typically regarded as ‘good bokeh!’

The bokeh itself is rendered by the blades in the lens diaphragm. How many blades in the Nikon 85mm 1.8D lens I used…..9. Count the sides of the bokeh shapes!

Alicia has/had awesome fiery red hair at the time of shoot so some complementary blue/violet bokeh worked a treat. The bokeh was created by shooting through an acrylic sheet sprayed with water.  A coloured gel over a studio strobe pointed straight at the acrylic provided the necessary blip of light to catch the droplets.

We took a lot of great shots during the shoot and we almost gave up on the idea after a few failed attempts.  We figured that earlier efforts were not catching enough light (we originally didn’t have a strobe pointing straight at the acrylic) and also the spray of water was too fine to make decent sized drops.  A quick 5 minute attempt just before we were about to leave got us the shot we wanted.  It was creatively satisfying when we got the ‘ta da!’ moment.

Key light on Alicia was a gridded beauty dish with a diffuser sock on.  The acrlylic in front of the lens itself diffuses the light and softens the image very slightly.

The effect is random, which kind of makes it fun!  I’ll be using the effect more often.  Stay tuned for more shots with Alicia in the future!

Make up was provided by the very talented Eirill Heitkotter.

Camera settings: ISO 200, 1/125, f/9

Camera/Lens: Nikon D700, 85mm 1.8D

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