Today we are talking about ‘Bokehmon’, and how to achieve this style in your Pokémon GO AR photography.
What is Bokehmon?
‘Bokehmon‘ is a popular technique (and hashtag) in the AR community, a hybrid of the word Bokeh and Pokémon. Bokeh is a photography term, and is taken from the Japanese word for ‘blur’, boke (暈け or ボケ), which means ‘blur’ or ‘haze’, or boke-aji (ボケ味). To make a Bokeh image is to take a photo with one part of it totally in focus, and the rest of the image out of focus. This is also known as having a very shallow depth of field. It forces your attention into a specific area, and can be a really beautiful technique, it is especially popular in portraiture.
With a traditional camera, it is the lens that allows for the Bokeh technique to naturally occur. Very wide aperture creates this effect, also referred to as the f-stop. The f-stop needs to be as low as possible for this effect.
It doesn’t occur naturally in mobile telephone cameras, which generally aim to keep as much of the photograph in focus as they can, but it has become a technique that they try to imitate, such as with iPhone portrait mode, which edits the background of an image to be blurry and leaves the subject of the image in focus.
In Pokémon GO’s Niantic AR mode, it is a style that you can trick your camera into, and as Pokémon photography is a form of portraiture, it can produce a really desirable effect.
As seen in this image, this is an example of Bokehmon because of the blurred background, with only Meganium in focus in the foreground. It allows Meganium to really pop out of the background and demand your focus. Bokeh works particularly well as an effect with a colourful background, or using lights in your background. Fairy lights and street lights can create a stunning effect behind your chosen Pokémon! I highly recommend checking out AR photographers Ash Ketzchup, Poketographer Tom, and Martin Chen for excellent examples of Bokehmon utilised beautifully. Ash Ketzchup also has an excellent video in his highlights on instagram on how he does this technique, so be sure to check that out too!
Here is another shot of Meganium taken in the same place at the same time without the Bokehmon effect, quite drastically different results!
How to Create the Bokehmon Technique
Bokehmon can be a tricky technique to get right, and definitely takes some practice, so don’t be disheartened if it takes you a few goes to get how you want it, I’d almost guarantee that all your favourite Bokehmon photos weren’t just taken quickly on a whim, but as part of a session, with many failures to get the shot just right.
With Bokehmon, patience is key! So here are the actual ‘How to’ things you need to know.
Firstly, you need to get your Pokémon in position, just like you would with any other AR photo. Once you have the spot, you need to get the camera to focus on something that isn’t the background that you want to appear out of focus. Most of us do this using our free hand, that isn’t holding our phone, positioning our hand behind the Pokémon, so that our hands becomes in focus.
Now, the really tricky part, the easiest way to get Bokehmon to work successfully is to get your Pokémon to do its attack animation, and as you tap to do that, whip your hand away super quick and tap tap tap away to take several photos quickly. Yeah, it’s a lot to do quickly with only 2 hands! You can do it without the attack technique, but you will tend to find that the actual background comes back into focus much quicker than with the attack animation. You get literally a second of Bokehmon before your background will be in focus, so speed really is of the element. Using a pop socket or other type of phone holder can really help, as it will allow you to quickly use your ‘holding’ hand to also press for the attack animation and to take the picture, whilst you worry less about holding the phone itself.
99% of your photos are either going to come out like this, because you haven’t been able to move your hand away quick enough, or by the time your hand is out of the way, the background is back in focus and you don’t have the Bokehmon technique you want. Again, patience is key, it’s going to be very rare to nail this in one go!
My camera roll is filled with photos of my hand half behind a Pokémon! Don’t feel frustrated, I promise even the most seasoned Bokehmon AR photographers has a camera roll full of these outtakes.
When you manage to get the timing just right, it is SO satisfying, and it can really transform an image into something cool!
More Bokehmon Examples
Nature can provide a beautiful colourful backdrop for Bokehmon, but as I mentioned before, fairy lights and street lights can also work beautifully. The blurring technique makes light look incredible, so it can really take your AR photography to the next level. The more lights, the more striking the impact!
These two fantastic examples of night time Bokehmon were kindly provided by Ash Ketzchup. You can see the lights in the background become glowing orbs, really changing the feel of the image!
We’d love to see your versions of Bokehmon! Be sure to use our AR hashtag #GOHubAR so we can see your amazing work.
All non-credited photos by kittypokemonsalot.