Bokeh is the art of blurring the unfocused background of your photograph into a beautiful creamy mess. You’ll see bokeh used heavily in portraits where the photographer wants to make their subject stand out against an otherwise distracting background. Photographers of all sorts use bokeh though, we use it to draw the viewers focus to a single subject and isolate it from the rest of the photograph.
Bokeh at night has the added benefit of turning any of the lights in the background into a colorful array much like what you’d see on your Christmas tree when you squint your eyes and look at it. Look for a subject that is highlighted by the light at night, preferably with different colors of lights in the background, and open your aperture to around f/4 (be careful not to open it too far or you’ll have just a tiny sliver in focus). The ensuing photograph will have little round bulbs of light scattered around the background creating that Christmas tree lights look.
The photograph below was taken of the Smithfield Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. The view of the city from that bridge is amazing but I wanted to capture the beauty of that old bridge. The camera was set on Aperture priority, f/4, ISO 200 (had to use a tripod), and 1.4 seconds with the 35mm lens.[alert type=”info”]Bokeh can also be used to mask pesky shadows that may photo bomb your image if the light is behind you.[/alert]