Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 2011 : Custom Bokeh

I am still new at this whole photography thing, and there is a lot of cool stuff out there that you can do with a camera, that I have never tried. And apparently, the thing to do, out in the photography world, is to have a project.

SO... I have decided that for my project, I will get to know my camera just a bit better by doing some experimental photography each month.

Since, I was a little late (2 weeks!) in taking down the Christmas tree (don't worry - it is artificial) I decided to try something called custom bokeh, that I saw on this blog. There is a great tutorial there!

Basically, bokeh refers to the little circles that lights in the distance make in the picture, when they are out of focus. Well, it turns out, you can actually change those circles of light into any shape you want by changing the shape that the light passes through, and that is easily done with black paper and shaped punches.

Here I what I came up with :

Hey, it is not pretty, OK? But it is a tool, not a fashion accessory, and it did the job just fine.

There are better directions here, but basically, you make a sleeve that fits over your lens with black paper...

and then with circles of black paper you use shaped punches to punch out a different shape in the center of each circle. Then you just swap out the different shapes in front of your lens to get different shaped bokeh.

And no, your subject is not affected by the shape at all.

Cool, huh?

So, just for fun, to try out my new homemade tool, I set up my tripod, attached my Sigma 30mm 1:1.4 lens, and my 7 year old selected some ornaments off the tree, and this is what I came up with (These photos are completely unedited, except for a bit of cropping):

Fireworks at the Eiffel Tower

City lights of London

Snowy England

Cherry blossoms in China

And love under the leaning tower of Pisa.

Bastille Day?

Then I decided to try my Canon Macro 100mm lens to see how it worked with a macro lens:

Love it! The Bokeh is bigger, and I could get up closer to the subject.

This Eiffel Tower is only 2 inches tall.

And with baby Jesus:

This one is my favorite.

Not bad for an hour of playing with my camera, huh? I'm sure by the time we pull out the Christmas light next year, I'll have a ton of ideas about what I want to try custom bokeh with. Why wait until Christmas?

Until next month..., happy shooting!


  1. That is sooooo cool!!!!! You rock Rachelle. I love your creativity! I've never seen that before, and I'm now dying to try it :)

  2. Looks really great. You did a super job. YOu should link this to Out of the Attic. Very, very cool and you did it!

  3. Hi Rachelle! This is so cool and unlike anything I've ever seen! You are so talented. Exciting to even know you!

  4. Brilliant! Can't wait to try it myself.