Custom heart bokeh guide
This guide will discuss methods for creating custom bokeh shots using a DIY lens hood.
Bokeh is basically out of focus areas on an image, usually this would be in a circular or hexagon shape as that is the shape of the blades that make the aperture inside the camera. By covering the lens with black card and cutting a shaped hole in the front we can manipulate the appearance of this bokeh in our images.
A good place to start is by creating a few circular pieces of card the same diameter as your lens. In the centre of these cut out simple shapes around 10-20 mm in size, try hearts, fish, stars, etc.
Then we create a reusable hood to hold these shapes. I tried a few methods but found a Pringles tube wrapped in duct tape provided a durable hood and I got a tight fit over my Canon 50mm lens. It also meant I could use the Pringles lid to keep the circular pieces of card in place. It made swapping shapes really easy and a tight fit ensured the only light getting in was coming through the shape on the front.
shape cut in circular card -> Pringles tube padded with tape -> lens -> hood on camera
Next comes the fun part…
- Place the fairy lights either on your Xmas tree or just hang them from the wall if your tree is no longer up
- Place camera on a tripod with your homemade hood over the lens and place the card over the front with a shape cut in the centre
- Fully open the apeture by using a the lowest F stop available to you
- Set your camera to manual focus and blur the image, if you look through the view finder you should see the lights begin to take the shape that you have cut; the more out of focus you go the more clear this shape should become
- Take some shots! Play around with different amount of lights and the distance you are stood from the lights. If your cut shape is nice and neat and there is no other light leaking into the lens the result should be crisp and clear!
Here are a few more bokeh shots from around flickr:
Try a variety of shapes and get creative with them.
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Written by Adam on April 14th 2009
- F-stop: f/1.8
- Shutter: 1/160 sec
- ISO: 100
- Focal distance: 50mm
- Lens: Canon EF 50mm II
- Camera: Canon EOS 400D