Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Hello everyone! Happy December! Beckie here.
I just LOVE this time of year. I love the cool (almost COLD!) weather, the scent of burning candles, and the glow of festive holiday lights :)
Last year, almost a year ago to the date in fact, I shared tips for taking photographs around the holidays. It’s a great “getting started” overview with ideas on how to make your photos from this time of year even more special. This year I decided to do something a bit different, and to try out a technique I’d seen a few times before but never actually tried…creating shaped bokeh!
We’ve probably mentioned it in the past, but bokeh is “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light“. It’s the blurry part of an image :) Turns out, by putting a template over the front of the lens and shaping the light that hits your sensor, you can create some really cool effects with your bokeh. Ready? It’s super simple, I promise!
What you need:
- portrait lens (you need something f2.0 or wider (a lower number) for this. When looking at a lens, you’ll see “50mm 1:1.8, or 30mm 1:1.4″ – we’re talking about the “1.8″ and the “1.4″ part. If you have those numbers, you’re good. If your lens has bigger numbers, this technique most likely won’t work very well :(
- black cardstock
- craft knife
Place your lens face-down on the black cardstock and trace around the inner most ring of your lens. It might take a small bit of “fiddling”, but you simply cut the circle down a bit until it fits within the ring of the lens. As you can see, I kind of pressed it in there snugly to make sure it stayed in place. Once you get one ring sized properly, just trace it out a few other times in case you get the fever and want to create a few different shapes.
Once you have your black circles, you need to use the craft knife to cut shapes from the center. I had a holiday stencil on-hand from years of holiday craft projects, and I used it to trace and cut out a starburst, a star, and a tree. You could also use a punch if you have one!
Unfortunately I got home every night this week after it was already dark, so please excuse these photos – they aren’t my best! But what I do love about them is that you can very clearly see how COOL and how amazing it is to actually change the shape of the light (the bokeh) in your photos:
shot at 1/50, f1.4 with my Sigma 30mm f1.4 lens (which rocks, btw!)
Here are a few tips:
- You want your lens to be as “wide open” as possible (the lowest f-stop number your lens supports).
- blurry is better! In other photos not shown here, I focused on the tree – and the photos had no shaped bokeh because well, there was no bokeh! The idea is to create blurry light to allow the little lens cover thingy do its work :) So just manually adjust the focus and watch the beautiful bokeh emerge :)
- The more blur, the bigger the bokeh. So play around to find out what looks best!
- Use a tripod. Or, if you do what I did – which is to temporarily misplace that little thing that screws into the bottom of the camera to allow your camera to snap into the tripod, you can pile up books on the coffee table and very carefully press the shutter button. LOL! (I need to find that thing! hubby will not be happy if I tell him I need another tripod, LOL. But the pile of books worked OK)
I was SUPER curious to see how the left image would come out, which was created with the starburst cut-out. I love the effect it created – but it also created a bit “messier” image. I think it’s pretty cool! I know my daughter would love it if I created one with her initials in the bokeh – something I might try over vacation :)
I have better examples of holiday bokeh (and tips on how to create it) in the post from last year, so be sure to check that out also! And remember that you can just use the bokeh as a background element. Believe it or not, you can still focus on a person (or a gift, an ornament, etc) in the foreground of your image and it will look perfectly normal – and still have that cool bokeh in the background.
Well, that wraps it up for me today! I hope you enjoyed this simple little experiment. And for even more inspiration – check out the shaped bokeh images on flickr! And stop by the Blog tomorrow for some more festive food fun with Casharina. SP and Kylie will also be stopping by with all the latest on projectSCRAP!
Happy holidays to you all, and best wishes for a healthy and happy new year :)