So what is Bokeh? Well, the word comes from the Japanese term "boke" (bo-keh) which means fuzziness. Bokeh describes the character of the blur in an image, but is often used specifically to refer to points of light rendered as fuzzy circles. These "circles of confusion" come from points of light not being perfectly focused. You know when you're taking a picture of your friend at night, and the lights in the background go fuzzy? That's it! Having a beautifully blurred background can help focus attention on the foreground.
Here's an explanation of the more technical side of bokeh by Vimean Stray Angel Films:
There are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about bokeh:
The further your subject is from the background, the better!
To get individual circles, think about what lights are in your viewfinder or LCD screen. Smaller lights work better (think christmas lights or far-off street lamps).
"good bokeh" usually means a circle with blurred edges, and "poor bokeh" refers to doughnut-like shapes that are sharp at the edges and can draw attention to themselves. Good or bad, however, is relative to what your intent is!
Even though Bokeh is a result of focus, you can be intentional with it. What better for a romantic scene at night than magic, twinkling colors in the background? Because Bokeh is defined by the shape of the aperture, you can customize the shape of each spot by creating filters for your lens. Check out the creative uses of bokah in this mini music video and tutorial DANIELS made for Sue Scrofa:
There are so many ways to work with this effect that happens naturally! Bradionio relied on custom apertures to create silhouettes in their video for Gramatik; Kelly experimented with stop motion animation; and of course, the always-fascinating fireworks, shot here by Milap:
Get creative, and use that bokeh to your advantage!