Fun with Bokeh

January 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I have to admit that as a photographer, I have several personalities. Part of me wants to document and present the real world as it appears, part of me wants to interpret it in contemplative or dreamy ways, and part of me wants to leave the real world behind entirely and just dabble in graphic fun. Lately I have been particularly interested in capturing light and playing with it in a fun graphic way.

This holiday season I experimented with abstract photos of strings of holiday lights, and you’ll find one of those images at the end of this post.  Today being New Year’s Day, I was inspired to try something new (at least to me) and add another element to my abstract lights.  A while back I had read about creating a DIY bokeh filter out of black card stock, and today I gave it a shot. The bokeh in the photo takes on the shape of the opening of the bokeh filter … stars, hearts, birds, etc. … even words.  You can find lots of instructions for making your own bokeh filters by searching on the term “DIY bokeh” (or something similar) and you’ll also find images shot using various shapes of bokeh filters.

So today I got out my black card stock, made a paper “cap” or filter for my 100 mm macro lens, and cut a little heart-shaped hole in the center of it.  I attached it to my lens with a rubber band (very high tech!), and set out to have some bokeh fun.  Rather than using my filter to shape bokeh in the background of an image, I decided to make the bokeh the star of the image.  I once again shot a string of holiday lights, in a semi-darkened room, on a polished wood floor.  I set the aperture to f/2.8 (a wide aperture is necessary to create the bokeh), and used -1.0 exposure compensation because I wanted the background to be as dark as possible.

The result is the fun image above featuring cheery little hearts and their reflections on the floor below them … admittedly, a bit of photographic of fluff, and maybe even a bit cheesy, but I definitely had fun making it.  And shouldn’t our photographic journey include a healthy dose of fun?  I say yes!

I’d love to hear your thoughts about creative use of bokeh, DIY photography hacks, or whatever is on your mind, so please feel free to leave a comment.  As always, I wish you happy shooting and a satisfying photographic journey!


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