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[Tips & Tutorials] MIUI Photography Classroom Lesson 2: Nail that Bokeh shot! Join us to win gifts!

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This post was edited by allakazoo at 14:00, Aug-16-2014

ANNOUNCEMENT: Thanks for sending in your shots after the lesson. I've chosen one to receive a small gift from us. Here it is! You can also see other outstanding shots here.



Lesson 2:
Nail that Bokeh shot
with a smartphone camera!

Today, let's talk about Bokeh. A technique that by its execution makes for wonderful photos, because a sharply focused subject stands out beautifully against a blurred background.


Before we go on, let us take a look at a classic Bokeh shot. I just picked it off randomly from the net.
Josefina_with_Bokeh.jpg "Josefina with Bokeh" by carlosluis - http://www.flickr.com/photos/paseodelsur/51805888/.

When we talk about Bokeh, we are actually describing the way a camera lens blurs parts of a photo in a pleasing manner to the eye. Therefore it is safe to say, the shallower the depth of field, the better the Bokeh.

L2_aperture.jpg
I'm showing this illustration, because many newcomers to photography tend to mistake a large aperture for a large f number. It's a reciprocal, so it's actually the opposite.

Xiaomi Mi 4 f/1.8, Xiaomi Mi 3 f/2.2, Redmi Note f/2.2, Redmi 1S f/2.2

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, on a smartphone, with apertures barely bigger than a pinhole. Even at the biggest aperture, the smartphone's aperture is barely bigger than a DSLR at f/16. So how do we make those Bokeh shots with a smartphone?   

There are a few ways actually. however, I'll touch upon one way that does not need much set-up and allows you the quickest possible way to nail that Bokeh shot using your smartphone camera.

Let's take a look at this illustration, which I've borrowed from Cameratechnica.
L2_dof.jpg
Based on the illustration, we can see that less (depth of field) DOF = less area in focus. To achieve that Bokeh shot, we want to keep as small a section in focus (less DOF) and as large a section infront and behind the subject out of focus (OOF). To achieve that without an app (fake looking) or a DSLR (large aperture, easy to achieve), we try to do a couple of things.

1. Close in on the subject. Take a step (maybe a few) towards your subject. Bring the smartphone in as close as you can. If you are taking a macro shot, switch to manual focus (if it is available on your phone, Mi3 example #7 lets you to set the Focus Mode)
Mi3CamSettings.jpg
and set focus to be at the nearest focus and simply move the smartphone forward and back to get your focus. Do not worry about composition. You can crop and edit later. Concentrate on getting the focus tack sharp.

2. Ensure that there's nothing in the photo that is next to your subject that will also be in focus. Move around, shift things, make sure there's no distraction in the photo. Most of all, use a background that's a distance from the subject and since it is far away from your focus point, it will be OOF and thus give you acceptable Bokeh.
L2_example.jpg
In this example, taken with my Mi3, I've purposely place the Powerbank about 2m from the wall behind it. This guarantees that when I focus on the Powerbank, the wall behind will definitely be OOF! You can try that outdoors too, just make sure that whatever you have as the background, it is some distance from the subject which you are focusing on. Take a look at the next example. BTW, the hairy thing in focus are spinach flowers.
L2_example2.jpg
You can do that for portrait shots too! Just ask your subject to come towards you and away from his/her background.

If you noticed, between the 2 examples used above, the first photo looks nicer, because it has a more uniform background. In the second outdoor photo, the background is more distracting. This takes away some impact of your photo because the viewer's eyes tend to wonder towards high contrast areas in the photo. A good point to bear in mind when taking photos. A good example is the next photo I took of a butterfly. The background is quite uniform, which helps to make the butterfly standout from the background.
L2_example3.jpg

With this in mind, I would like to remind you, that it is a little hard to achieve a Bokeh shot if the outdoor lights are bright. This is because the camera will choose a small aperture, to prevent overexposure. A way to get around this problem, is to manually choose an ISO on your smartphone that is the lowest. Again, this option may not be available on your smartphone. But if you are using the Mi3, it is option #8 in the settings.

Go out there now and shoot shoot shoot! Remember, "film" is free. You can always delete what you don't want, to free up space on your smartphone.

Alright, that's all for MPC Lesson 2. Now it's your turn!

Join MIUI Photography Classroom to win Mi Bunnies!

Reply to this thread with a Bokeh Photo (choose 1 photo, please don't flood this thread) taken by you and attach the original photo with EXIF info (for verification of Xiaomi phone) by Aug 15, 2014. We will select one best picture to give out a gift package.

UPDATE (15Aug2014): I've pulled a sampling of the posts submitted here and made them into a thread. Do check them out and learn a thing or two from each other! I've also announced who will receive the gift package there. :)

Prizes include 5 Mi Bunnies World Cup Version + Xiaomi Camera Lens + Mi Portable WiFi + Mi Key + Xiaomi T-Shirt.

Quick! Come join in the fun and get some gifts at the same time.

About MIUI Photography Classroom

MIUI Photography Classroom (MPC) is a long term project to help MIUIers improve their photography skills, from basic to advanced. Do drop me (@allakazoo) a note via PM, if you would like to share your expertise by contributing articles related to photography.

Lesson 1: Smartphone Photography Basics

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13:42, Aug-14-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by avel_ana at 14:25, Aug-14-2014

Yey! Nailed "IT"! haha Here's my snap

IMG_20140814_132517_1.jpg

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allakazoo Support: 5 Objection: 0 Congrats! I've chosen your photo to receive the gift package. Thanks for the light-hearted and well taken photo. Keep on shooting!  06:33, Aug-16-2014

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11:58, Aug-13-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by jenz1 at 12:38, Aug-13-2014

"ssshh... I'm ducking so they can have a good view of the bokeh." -- via my Mi 3




"Now where the heck did I put my bokeh?" -- via my Mi3


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20:24, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by backlash23 at 20:44, Aug-11-2014

Here is My Entry
I played with Depth of Field (DOF) on both background and foreground. My Master always tells me, it is the Man behind the lens and not the lens infront of the man when it comes to taking pictures. Enjoy

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11:04, Aug-12-2014 | From PC
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Here's my entry!

bokehbyyouresofunnylol

bokehbyyouresofunnylol

exif

exif

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redmi 1s :D

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10:21, Aug-15-2014 | From PC
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Greetings from Australia :)
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23:10, Aug-14-2014 | From PC
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Lets try this with KitKat :)


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07:10, Aug-14-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by alpo430 at 07:17, Aug-14-2014

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01:22, Aug-12-2014 | From PC
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good tutorial :)
IMG_20140811_222724[1].jpg

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20:30, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by matrixbharath at 15:25, Aug-12-2014

All Snaps are Shot on The MI3 W, using the above tutorial

Couple Of Shots of MI Bunny's and Piston Ear Phones, Specially setup and Taken for This contest.Mi Bunny Key Ring

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EXIF Data in the ZIP Below

Nail that Bokeh Shot (matrixbharath).zip

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16:34, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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Thanks good to know I am not too good a photos

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16:35, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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very good tip, its easy to do with a DSLR but much much harder with a smartphone.
i have to say i really enjoy the camera on the Redmi 1s, so many possibilities!
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16:35, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by pulautikus at 13:39, Aug-14-2014



Woohoo!
Another photography lesson!!Here's one from me. Losing sharpness because I took it in a rush (and i zoomed in using my redmi 1s)

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16:37, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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wow, great tips, but how about the mi3's camera software?

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16:37, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by sianman at 17:03, Aug-11-2014

I am using Redmi Note. It does not have manual focus.
DSC_0091.JPG

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shengchai redmi note has macro mode. try that !  20:05, Aug-11-2014

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16:37, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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Good lesson !! Wonder if i can do that with 1S ?

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KateZ Sure~  16:38, Aug-11-2014

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16:38, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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Thanks for your lessons!

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16:44, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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Wow great lesson! I will try this tutorial and hopefully I can nail that Bokeh shot on my mi3 :)

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16:53, Aug-11-2014 | From PC
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This post was edited by Adhi_India at 11:18, Aug-12-2014

Wonderful lesson.  This one taken by me somewhat indoor, will be adding some outdoors ASAP.  Taken by Mi3, auto mode.

IMG_20140808_120919.jpg

HDR mode used to make the Bokeh shot
IMG_20140812_080617_HDR.jpg

This one all settings manually selected to give it a bit sepia tone...
IMG_20140812_080658.jpg

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