December 7, 2010

A Quick Comparison of Aperture & Bokeh

Here’s a super quick experimentation with aperture & bokeh.

When Jenny and I were taking pictures of cupcakes at Disney, we grabbed a table by the giant Christmas tree and positioned the cupcakes so the beautiful tree lights & decorations were the background for our photos.

Below is a quick comparison of the different apertures we used and the different types of bokeh it produced.

Christmas at Disney
Photo via Jenny

First, here’s the Christmas tree we used as our background.

Christmas at Disney

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
f/2.8
1/160 sec
ISO 100

Christmas at Disney

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
f/4.5
1/125 sec
ISO 200

Christmas at Disney

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
f/5.6
1/125 sec
ISO 200

Which one do you prefer? I normally prefer shooting at 2.8 or below, but I really like how the tree turned out in the third picture, at 5.6.

Give this a try with your Christmas tree! :) Experiment with your aperture and see how the bokeh changes. Here are a couple of photography tutorials to get you started.

A Quick Guide to Understanding Your DSLR Camera
Get Beautiful Background Bokeh with your Christmas Tree



See More Posts About: Photography TutorialsTutorials

67 Comments






1
Jessica @ How Sweet December 7, 2010 at 8:06 am

I don’t know much about photography, but your pictures are outstanding. I really like the one of the tree too!

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2
Stephanie December 7, 2010 at 8:23 am

The 3rd one is my favorite too. I can’t wait to take some tree pictures with bokeh, now that I have my new lens. Oh and I definitely see cupcakes in my near future now!!

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3
Estela @ Weekly Bite December 7, 2010 at 8:25 am

These pics are AMAZING! I need all the photography help I can get :)

Thanks!

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4
Mia December 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

My favorite tree is in the third picture because it’s not too blurry. But I think the cupcake looks better in the first. It’s sligthly darker/sharper in color. Which of the three settings did that? Or is it a combination?

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5
Ambrosia Clark December 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

Definitely 5.6!
Great shots! I love that the Bokeh is colorful as opposed to plain white lights!
Fantastic shots!

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6
Marci December 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

Definitely like the 5.6 shot. I love how the tree in the background has more defined spheres. For me it creates a fantasy look….and the cupcake is still the focal point of the shot.

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7
Melanie @ Whimsical Creations December 7, 2010 at 8:49 am

What a great comparison! I too like the last one. =)

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8
Kasey December 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

5.6 for sure. The Tree really looks more ‘magical’ in that photo.

Question… Do you use a tripod when taking your photos?

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9
Erika December 7, 2010 at 8:54 am

Love the 3rd, its more popped and not blurry. Love it! keep try use more often by 5.6

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10
Mary Anne December 7, 2010 at 8:55 am

Looks like we all agree on the last shot! Pretty photo!

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11
Ashley December 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

Love your ideas! I tried this when you made a post last year. Here’s how one of my pics turned out: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_usGQWGrkwS0/TPq1TalDp6I/AAAAAAAABLI/4CunKTQKstw/s1600/horse1.jpg

I love it!

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12
traci December 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

I love the cupcake pictures. The christmas tree is also beautiful.I love the vivid colors in the cupcake photo.I need to learn to take better pictures. I need help with ordering pictures. Have a great day : ).

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13
Amber December 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

Def the third one! The cupcake is completely in focus and really pops!

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14
Maria December 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

You are haunting me with that lens:) Great photos!

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15
samantha schmidt December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am

all of your pictures are so beautiful (:

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16
Julie December 7, 2010 at 9:07 am

Love these pictures! :) I love my Canon 50mm f/1.8, but I’m loving the look of the f/5.6 you took! It’s so pretty, brings so much more color to it, perfect! :)

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17
Wendy December 7, 2010 at 9:11 am

As a photographer, I agree with you. I like the 3rd one better. I normally like a smaller apeture as well, but the bokeh effect is just right on the 3rd one! Job well done :)

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18
Heather (Heather's Dish) December 7, 2010 at 9:12 am

either way the photos turn out incredible :)

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19
the urban baker December 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

i’m addicted to bokeh! i love my 50mm 1.4…yet i think i have to step outside of the box a bit! great post!

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20
Lisa McCully December 7, 2010 at 9:16 am

I took the most beautiful picture of my entire tree, using the bokeh effect. I stood in a lite room about 10 feet from my tree, focused on something very close to me, lifted the camera to frame the tree and fired the shot. It was beautiful. I got varying degrees of focus depending on how close I focused on the things near me. It was so fun and the picture made me smile ear to ear :)
Your cupcake bokeh is awesome!!

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21
Lisa McCully December 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

My fav, is the 5.6, very pretty!!

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22
Lynisha December 7, 2010 at 9:26 am

I love the results at 5.6! I normally try to shoot with a lower f-stop too but I love those results! I need to put some lights up to try this out!

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23
Sharie T December 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

I really like the third one too. My new camera lens only goes to f/3.5 so I can’t get the first one….yet :)I like the lights better too. Cute cupcake!
Thanks for another great lesson!

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24
Mindy December 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

Artistically speaking I like the THRID best. I think the lights on the tree mimic the sprinkles on the cupcake. SUPER photo!!!

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25
Anna Faustini December 7, 2010 at 9:35 am

Hi Amanda,
My favorite is the third picture, 5.6. The colors are beautiful. I would love to learn all about photography, but need to work on getting equipment like yours first. Thanks for sharing with all of us. I really enjoy it all. :)

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26
Marywithgarden December 7, 2010 at 9:39 am

The 1st photo is more impressionistic and I think that the cupcake really pops to the front. The middle one starts to form impressions of circles that are repeated in the sprinkles on the cupcake so it draws your eye there. The third one has strong circular shapes as well as separated colors, so you begin to take in a more formal composition of the entire photo and not concentrate on the cupcake, only. I would say then it depends on what you are trying to say with your photo.

great exercise

keep experimenting!

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27
Joyce December 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

I liked them all, but I think I liked the third one the best. It is always interesting to see what settings you used to get the effects.

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28
chinamommy December 7, 2010 at 9:53 am

i am def. going to try this out!! thanks for always posting the BEST photo tips!!!
xoxo

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29
Becky December 7, 2010 at 9:56 am

Love all your pics. What a beautiful tree. I’m not photography savy but my fave is the first one because it features the cupcake more. Yum that cupcake looks good. :) Merry Christmas by the way.

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30
Monica December 7, 2010 at 10:13 am

I have to say, I liked the third picture the best. You’re an amazing photographer Amanda. :) That cupcake looks SO. GOOD. The ornaments kind of look like the sprinkles too!! :D

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31
HeatherB December 7, 2010 at 10:18 am

I really like the tree in the third, but I prefer the cupcake in the first. Beautiful photos – thanks for the side-by-side comparison!

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32
Tricia December 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thank you so much for this quick tut., Amanda. I have been struggling a bit with my tree bokeh. The visuals helped a lot.
Oh, and now I want a cupcake. Somehow, when I visit your blog, I always leave wanting a cupcake.
Just sayin’.

xo*tricia

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33
Julie December 7, 2010 at 11:05 am

I love the third photo as well. :)

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34
TidyMom December 7, 2010 at 11:23 am

Love it Amanda!!! What could be any sweeter than a cupcake with Christmas tree bokeh?!

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35
Shantell Newm December 7, 2010 at 11:25 am

Thanks for posting! I was planning on giving the bokeh technique a try tonight, actually, for our christmas cards. I will give these settings a try as a start! The last one is my favorite!

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36
Amanda December 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

Ok so you inspired me to play around with my camera and my tree a little. But I have an issue. I adjusted my settings on my Nikon D3000 and used a tripod to try and get a picture. Im using a Nikkor 55-200mm Lense. But my subject keeps turning out blurry. No matter how still I try and stay when I hit the shutter button. This is what I keep getting

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d109/ilayou777/DSC_0300.jpg

and this was the best I could get

http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d109/ilayou777/DSC_0313.jpg

Am I missing something??

PLEASE help me Amanda!!! :)

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37
Peter June 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm

You should increase your ISO to get a faster shutter speed or use a tripod one of your shots was taken at f9 with an ISO of only 200 resulting in a shutter speed of over half a second. Try 800 ISO and a faster exposure time of around 125/s

38
Jill @ Rustic Bliss December 7, 2010 at 11:39 am

The 3rd one for sure…Beautiful. It’s so colorful and dreamy it almost magicaly brings out the inticing flavor all by itself…”awww I gotta have this yummy goodness” kinda effect.
*thanks kevin & amanda now jill is hungry for cupcakes – gawwh!*

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39
daneilia December 7, 2010 at 11:54 am

that is awesome! i love experimenting and trying new things on my camera…. :)

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40
Lynn December 7, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Thanks for posting this, Amanda! Number three is my favorite! Definitely.

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41
Donna King December 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I love your blog. Thanks for the links for the photography tips.

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42
Jen @ The Decor Scene December 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Love all the pictures, but the 5.6 one is awesome. I have to start playing around with my Canon camera more. I have to read up on your site more and start to test different settings out. I recently borrowed someone’s macro lens and I’m in love. I don’t remember the exact lens, but it took some amazing pictures and that was just on the auto setting. ;) Thanks for always sharing such great posts.

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43
Amy C December 7, 2010 at 1:08 pm

If you’re obsessed with bokeh like me… you should get the Bokeh Masters Kit. Makes shaped bokeh – SO CUTE! – especially perfect for this time of year when twinkle lights are everywhere!!
Try it – You’ll love it! (if you haven’t already done so)

http://www.bokehmasterskit.com/

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44
Kathleen December 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Great photos, I like the 5.6 one best too. Thanks for the info – I love your turorials they’re always easy to understand.

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45
Rebekah T December 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I like the 5.6 too…just because it adds a little more color to the image. Great pics. :)

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46
Brandy December 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm

The 3rd one – the x-mas tree in the background isn’t too blurry. On the other ones my focus goes to the blurriness.

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47
Cheryl December 7, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The third pic is my favorite – maybe because it mimics the confetti on the cupcake?!! I found your tutorial on Christmas trees and bokehs yesterday. Is this at all achievable with basically point-and-shoot? I have a Nikon L110. I tried most of yesterday afternoon and never could get it!! Thanks for all the info.

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48
Beth Trestrail December 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I agree that the third shot is the best. All have the same basic characteristic near object focus, background blur. But the 5.6 aperture setting gave the crispest focus with the optimal effect of the lights in the background. The overall balance of objects is better in the third photo. This is proof that a “rule” for aperture settings is not always ironclad. In the digital age when wasting film is not a consideration, it’s well worthwhile to experiment with multiple settings to get the best overall composition and effect.

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49
Shannon December 7, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I like the last one the best, too.

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50
Amber December 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Thanks for posting such good information! I look forward to reading your blog because I always learn something new!

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51
BK December 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Who cares about the bokeh, I want the CUPCAKE! Just kidding, the photos look great. I prefer the last one, myself.

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52
Michelle December 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I enjoy looking at your website! I’m really interested in photography and these photos are great!

Take a peak at my blog:
http://lifeasyouknowit.blog.com/

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53
Megan December 7, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I loooove all of your pictures. I am studying photography in school. I like the third one, but because the background dots so-to-speak are larger, it almost distracts from the cupcakes. It leads the eye from the sprinkles on the cupcake to the background ‘dots’ or lights. I think the second picture at 4.5 is my favorite. I guess it all depends on what you are trying to say with your photos. All are great as always!

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54
Lianne December 8, 2010 at 12:42 am

Once again, awesome pictures! I’m counting my calories and all I can think about is cupcakes! :-)

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55
Nickole S December 8, 2010 at 7:46 am

I love the third image. It really gives the picture some life in the background!

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56
Sydney December 8, 2010 at 11:13 am

I love the third as well! And I LOVE your site!!!!!!! Thanks for all the great stuff! So fun! Can you tell me about how far away from the tree you were?? Can’t wait to try this!! :o) Thank you!

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57
Jennifer W December 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

The 3rd one was my favorite too but all 3 were great!

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58
Lorrie December 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Amanda, I love this technique! I’ve been using it like crazy lately! Thanks for sharing the “how to” instructions. If you’d like to see there’s a few on my blog above, and more on my 365 blog… http://lorrieslifedaybyday.blogspot.com

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59
cynthia December 8, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I feel the same as you. I prefer 2.8, but love how the photo came out with the 5.6. Thanks for sharing!

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60
Angela December 8, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I agree. I prefer the last one with the 5.6

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61
rachel in Cali. December 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I like the third the best! But… I also liked one and two, that is until I saw 3! ;0)

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62
shelia December 9, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Your pictures are always awesome! I love how you use actual photographs when explaining what you are doing (whether it’s photography or cooking) I am a visual person so you are one of my favorite go-to blogs for information.

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63
Vicki December 11, 2010 at 12:28 pm

These photos are incredible! I especially love the color in them, and I have a question about that. How did you get the tree to look like pastel colors (pink, turquoise, & blue) behind the cupcake when it looks like the tree ornaments are actually primary colors (red, blue, and green)? Do you need a special setting or lighting for that?

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64
Kathleen Mullin December 12, 2010 at 11:16 am

Love thoes earrings with the bows, so simple, yet elegant. Love unique pieces

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65
Ambar April 13, 2011 at 7:48 am

Hi Amanda, I have a question about the lighting indoors. Did you use the flash from the camera to compensate? or did you use other additional lighting? also, I’ve tried bokeh but like another person posted I get blurry subject, what are your suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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66
Mrs Ergül September 8, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I have the exact same thoughts. Generally like to shoot with F2.8 or lower. But love the bokeh that f5.6 gives in the last photo.

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