No Bokeh? No Problem! These Out of Focus Backgrounds Hold You Over Until You Get that Fast Lens


Want a blurry background for your portraits on-demand, whether or not you’re using a fast lens? Or maybe you are using a fast portrait lens, but you want to shoot with it stopped down to the sharpest possible aperture without sacrificing that beautiful bokeh you’re going for.

Well now you can now do that without having to put serious distance between your background and subject. Just pop up one of Lastolite‘s new Out of Focus Backgrounds.

Yep, this is another one of those photography inventions that falls in the ‘wish we’d thought of that’ category. And while it might come across as ‘cheating’ on some level, the benefits of an already-blurry background are obvious.


If the effect you’re going for in-studio requires that you’re stopped down a bit, or your sharpest lens isn’t necessarily your fastest lens, you don’t have to pick and choose in order to get nice bokeh in your background. Just slap up one of the blurry backgrounds.

Lastolite offers you two collapsible-frame 4×5′ reversible choices that will give you four total options: one background features green summer foliage on one side and city lights on the other, while the other features fall foliage and seascape:





Obviously these backgrounds from Lastolite aren’t going to put fast primes out of commission any time soon, but they’re an intriguing option that would be a welcome addition to the studio photography toolkit.

Not that they come cheap. Picking one up will set you back $185… $370 if you want all four background options. To find out more, head over to the Lastolite website. And if you’re ready to drop some cash on a set of your own, you can find both the city light/summer foliage and fall foliage/seascape options on B&H Photo.

(via DIY Photography)

Image credits: Photographs courtesy of Lastolite

  • Howard J.

    So wack …

  • Brian M.

    No. Just… No! They look so fake.

  • anonymous322

    Wouldn’t it be easier just to take the picture properly? An 85 f/1.8 isn’t much more than these.

  • lemmohr

    No thank you. I’ll rather spend my $370 on 50mm F1.8 and a good Porterhouse Steak dinner

  • Clinton Blackburn

    So…one can either spend $185 on a backdrop or $125 for (Canon) 50mm f/1.8. The choice seems pretty clear.

  • DickCheney

    This is the most ingenious dumb invention DickCheney has seen since prosthetic testes for neutered dogs.

  • Adam Cross

    woww some great comedy from PP as usual, my day is better for it =D

  • Brandon Rechten

    “Obviously these backgrounds from Lastolite aren’t going to put fast primes out of commission any time soon” …or ever.

    The lighting on the subject makes them look complete unbelievable.

  • the truth hurts

    $185-370!? I rather put that money toward a new lens.. and the ability to go out and take a shot.

  • Oj0

    It would be better to take a photo of the backdrop separately from the subject so you can get the lighting on the subject correct. Clone the background layer to in front of your subject, perform and average colour blur and set the blending mode to soft light. From there just play with the opacity (you want it quite low, start around 20%) until you’re happy. That way you avoid mismatched lighting, which is a big giveaway that your subject and background are not as they seem.

    Hell, thinking about it, rather take another picture of the actual background at the time rather than essentially slapping your mug on a stock photo. Almost any lens can get a background with nice bokeh when focused to it’s closest focus point, you don’t need a super speedy prime.

  • Pickle

    In a studio, you usually shoot at f/5.6 and above anyway.

  • Mario Liedtke

    But in my opinion it creates a very unnatural and unbalanced look…
    Maybe it would help not to shoot in studio at f8 but in as open aperture as possible..

  • Kaouthia

    Might help if the lighting on the subject matched the backgrounds. Plenty of places where there should be specular highlights but aren’t.

  • C Schel

    These backgrounds can work, if you shoot your subject properly. They can be useful to shoot a subject (customer), as one can’t practically go to all those locations. My objection is to the misuse of the term ‘bokeh’.

  • Vin Weathermon

    The post-added lens flares to make the background look believable are a bit over the top. But the background does achieve the desired effect. Seems like you could accomplish this with chromakey and have a huge catalog of backgrounds rather than the half dozen you can afford…or the two I could afford…

  • Kynikos

    I’ve pulled better looking backgrounds out of my arse.

    $185? $370? 50mm 1.8 new (or a 1.4 used, or an 85 used) and you’re done.

  • markz

    OoF backdrops/backgrounds are far from new, I recently gave away 5 of them along with my entire backdrop collection that I’d owned since the mid 80’s (I haven’t done studio portraiture since the 90’s and the friend I gave them to is just starting out)
    Can’t recall what I paid for mine way back then but would be surprised if in “today money” they would have been this much even for the full sized ones

  • Clayton Finley

    why not just get a $20 green screen and shop in whatever blurred out background you want? or just take the normal photo, and in post give the OOF area more blur, its easy peasy

  • Andrew Ferguson

    Is this post an unlabeled paid-for advertorial? Because it certainly reads like one.

    Not impressed, guys. These products look like crap and having content that seems this breathlessly enthusiastic about it, whether paid for or not, definitely makes me not want to trust your recommendations in the future.

  • James Donahue

    Shop Botero Backgrounds from Adorama, Big 10×12 reversibles for less than $100 Bucks.

  • Brad Trent

    You nuked my reply? Why…cuz I used a common word for “POOP”…?!! No matter…but perhaps you will allow my cleaned-up version…

    I fail to understand why the hobbyist photographer community has been so overtaken with this ridiculous quest for “BOKEH”. A ‘crappy’ photograph taken at f1.4 is still a ‘crappy’ photograph!

  • Brad Trent

    I was kinda thinking the same thing about this look VERY advertorial when my original reply got nuked…

  • Thomas Soerenes

    What about the lighting equipment you’d have to purchase to make the light look anything like your background? Buy a 50/85 mm 1.8 and go outside.

  • Mike

    You might as well just use a green screen, then plant a photo of far lights taken with your “terribly slow” lens focused to minimum distance.

  • Jim Johnson

    I called the overuse of bokeh a trend on another website and was instantly shot down. I’m glad someone sees this happening.

    My thought is that you should learn to shoot with whatever lens you have and quit worshiping at the alter of bokeh.

  • Jim Johnson

    But that would require… you know… work.

  • Mike

    Oh, the humanity!

  • Mike

    Fecal matter is serious business, man.

  • TheBigS

    Um. Really? A 50mm f/1.8 costs less than that.

  • Tom Watkin

    They do look fake.

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    Please explain how a nifty fifty magically puts a forest or beach in your studio.

    (it’s still a rubbish idea)

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    A fact that both Lasolite and the JUST BUYED A PRIME crowd above seem to be entirely missing.

  • Chris Rogers

    Who thought this was a good idea?

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    I’d love to say these look great, but they all make the subject look absolutely disconnected from the world.

  • Sir Stewart Wallace

    Depending on where you live, a beach might be a bit more difficult, but finding a row of trees to photograph a person in front of isn’t very difficult.

  • Logan S.

    Is this an Onion article? …

  • Demetris C Demetris Christodou

    No. This is utterly horrible and fake.

  • Guest

    Nice hat.

  • Omar Spence

    $180 to $370? you can get a 50mm 1.8 for a bit less than the cheapest and a 50mm 1.4 for the cost of the most expensive. Fake bokeh for the price of real fast glass is just ludicrous. There is just something inherently classless about fake anything, whether fake bokeh, chroma key backdrops or any of that other rubbish out there.

  • ajfudge

    Hmmm. This made me realize that bokeh is not all that and a fake bokeh is just so tacky.