Lens-Artists Challenge #194 – Bokeh

red, leaves, bokeh, flowers, iPhone
iPhone Magic

“Life is like a camera. Focus on what’s important and….if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”


This week Sofia’s Bokeh challenge pushed me to try some new techniques that I learned in a recent class on iPhone photography. Both my opening image and the one below were captured using my iPhone 12 Pro Max and are un-edited except for conversion to 4×6 format and framing. It also drew me to some of my favorite images from the past, which are included later in my post.

flower, pink, bokeh, iPhone
Springtime Magic

“You are the conductor – your orchestra are shapes, textures, stories, objects, patterns, emotions, design, moments, depth, focus, rhythm, shades, color, movement and light.”

Steve Coleman

Both of the images were made during a simple walk around my neighborhood. I thank Sofia for pushing me out the door to practice both the class lessons and the simple act of observation, which is often lost in the minutia of everyday life. And now, as promised, a few of my favorite bokeh examples from the archives.

monkey, bokeh, eyes, catchlight
Funky Monkey, Botswana

“Photographs help us to remember….and even more importantly they help us to decide what is worth remembering.”

John Rosenthal

The image above is among my favorites because it illustrates several key elements of photography. The monkey is making an interesting gesture, his eyes have a lovely catchlight that includes me in it, and the subject is in clear focus with – per today’s challenge – a background of lovely, soft bokeh. Most importantly, it is a reminder for me of the incredible joy I experienced while amongst the wild animals of Botswana in their natural habitat.

I’ve included a gallery of some other favorite images which illustrate the power of bokeh in drawing the viewer’s attention to a subject. They follow no rhyme nor reason, but are simply some of my favorites.

“Reduce, simplify, and focus on what is absolutely essential by eliminating everything else.”

Greg McKeown

A soft, creamy bokeh is yet another tool we can use to lend emphasis to our subjects. I would add one comment – while we can achieve it with any camera or lens (iPhones included) in my experience the better the lens the better the bokeh, or at least the easier it is to achieve. I’ll admit to missing my Nikon equipment when it comes to bokeh.

Thanks to Sofia for her focus on this important technique – we look forward to seeing your own examples. Please remember to use the Lens-Artists Tag and to link your responses to Sofia’s original here. Thanks also to John for his Birthday challenge last week (and of course a belated Happy Birthday to him!). We enjoyed your many interpretations and the creativity of those who chose not to include the images of family and friends who, like mine, prefer to stay out of the spotlight. We hope you’ll join us next week when Anne will lead the challenge on her Slow Shutter Speed Blog. Until then, as always please stay safe and be kind.

Interested in joining Lens-Artists? Click here for more information.


88 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #194 – Bokeh

  1. Spectacular photos, monkey included. Also really love the black bird. Your trip to Botswana must have been so interesting. Our brief forays into Africa have netted us multiple opportunities for photos and great memories. Would love a return trip, but that may not be in the cards. Thanks for always showing us such great examples for the theme each week.

  2. Yes, it is amazing how far the iPhone has come with the camera. Especially, since the iPhone is almost always available. Having a shallow depth of field helps to focus the viewer’s eye. My favorite photo is the maple leaves.

  3. Pingback: Lens-ArtistPC-194-Bokeh – WoollyMuses

  4. majestic superb so striking in color and details..masterly capture.Tina ji you are a gem in the world of photography

  5. All so beautiful, and the variety well expressed! I must say the monkey is a favourite with me – for all the reasons you stated, but also for what those eyes do to the viewer…who was not there at that moment!

  6. ohhh, I love all of these. This is one of my favorite techniques. I will have to learn how to use on my iPhone! I will definitely try for this challenge. I have some oldies but goodies I’ll post shortly!

  7. You’ve certainly shown that phone cameras these days are capable of really sophisticated effects Tina πŸ™‚ But of course the Funky Monkey steals the show! I also love the egret shot, which would also have been perfect for my ‘rule of thirds’ challenge a while back πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Sarah. Yes, that little monkey is definitely this week’s favorite. Altho I’m know to break it when it makes sense, typically I have the rule of thirds in mind while I’m shooting.

  8. What a gorgeous post, Tina. Your photos are exquisite! I am lingering on your shot of the monkey. It is a fabulous shot–for all the reasons you mentioned–plus his inherent curiosity on display and his almost-human expression. All your photos are great examples of bokeh. Have a great week.πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

  9. Gorgeous examples of how photography is done, Tina! Amazing what mobile phones can pick up these days. I’ve been shooting wildflowers and can get a similar bokeh effect. I dearly love that last shot of the coneflowers! Exquisite! Hope you’ve had a good week–we’re back from our vacation and will be back to blogging this week! Take care!

    • Thanks very much Terri. Actually that one was an iPhone shot as well. I was showing a good friend how to use the iPhone portrait mode. Welcome back – hope to hear about the vacation when you return to blogging.

  10. This is a beautiful bokeh image collection, Tina. So glad you include the gallery, egret and dragonfly are beautiful. The Funky Monkey is precious, what a great capture!

  11. Funky Monkey steals the show for me, but I also love the Impala and those lovely yellow flowers. I think you are right about the lens making such a difference to the actual effect. Apparently the shape of the light orbs is dependent on the diaphragm blades of the lens, so a lens with more circular-shaped blades will have rounder, softer orbs of out-of-focus highlights. I suspect the more expensive lens the are the better the bokeh.

  12. T-🐻, Loved your last montage. The webbed feet of that magnificent black bird. And all the lines of the antelope. Beautiful. Me

    Sent from my iPhone

  13. Excellent examples, Tina. The first one is my favorite and that opening quote is spot on. I agree that an actual camera works best for bokeh although you can get wonderful ones with a phone camera. I’ve found that the phone has a tendency to want to focus on or include the background which can be extremely frustrating. Don’t ask how I know that. 😬. But I also have an iPhone 7, not a newer one and that might make a difference.

    • Thanks Janet – yes there’s a huge difference between my 8+ and the 12 PM. The newer phone have multiple lenses that control aperture. Really it’s the only reason I finally gave in and upgraded.

  14. I like that opening quote. It’s worth remembering. That opening image demonstrates that bokeh is possible with today’s cell phones. So many wonderful examples, I can’t decide if my favorite is the antelope, the monkey, or the soldier.

    • Many thanks John. Yes I had fun with the iPhone that day as I’d not had much success trying the technique with my previous 8+. The newer models are incredibly powerful. I must admit I love capturing animals in the wild. Africa exceeded even my wildest expectations and that’s REALLY saying something.

  15. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy the photos (especially the monkey) I also learned a new word β€œbokeh”!

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