In order to have a good separation of the subject from the background you usually use fast lens with high aperture and so on.

Can this, however, be achieved purely digitally?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You could also use a longer lens with a more reasonable aperture, such as f/2.8 or f/4, to get great background bokeh. You might also get better perspective on your subjects as well with a longer lens. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Oct 17, 2011 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


Many options exist for creating bokeh digitally. Some purists will tell you that nothing exists like true bokeh created from large apertures. But, if you want to experiment many options are available.

  • onOne Software - Focal Point
  • Alien Skin's Bokeh
  • Photoshop has many plugins available as well

If you want to create it yourself in something like Photoshop or Gimp, you can using the Gaussian Blur filter effect. I will caution you though, this is a "pet-peeve" of many photographers, much like selective coloring. If you use this effect too much or too obviously to the viewer - it can have a negative effect on your image, so take caution.

Note, fast lenses with large apertures have other benefits besides the pleasing bokeh they produce. In my opinion the "synthetic" options do not match the real thing for bokeh either.

  • \$\begingroup\$ so this question was dumb too? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 18, 2011 at 6:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Andrei Rinea: this isn't a dumb question. The effect your trying to achieve can be done in post processing it just won't be as good as natural bokeh. Best thing is you can see the need for it in an image, that's the creative part, the rest is just technique which is easy to learn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Paul Round
    Oct 18, 2011 at 8:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it is a dumb question at all. It is an artistic and or creative choice to include or exclude bokeh, the option is purely up to the photographer. If you took my opinion on digitally created bokeh as compared to lens created bokeh to be calling this question dumb, I apologize that was not what I meant. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Oct 18, 2011 at 13:57

For truly imitating bokeh, you'd have to adjust blur of each background pixel based on how much away from focus plane it is along the depth axis. Since your image does not contain that information, it's quite hard to fake bokeh purely by post-processing unless it's all at similar distance, in which case you could use Gaussian blur and layer masking.

You might, however, try achieving better bokeh by stitching multiple exposures.


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