shaped bokeh in 1-2-3

/ 16 April 2012 /
You don't have to be a photography guru to know that bokeh is pretty. But bokeh in your favorite shape? Awesome!

For me, the unaltered bokeh is still the sweetest, but there are lots of great photos in the interwebs showcasing it in different shapes (most often, hearts, because the interwebs are gay like that -- and I mean that in a nice way because I love my gay friends). At first, I thought they were all digitally manipulated, but then I came across this nice tutorial on making shaped bokeh, and wow, it is possible without photo editing, and it's really easy!

I decided to mess around with it one afternoon, cutting the fuss and just experimenting, until I boiled it down to just three simple steps.

But first, the materials (that you can find everywhere):
  • any kind of opaque paper -- I used an old brown bag because that's the first thing I found;
  • scissors
  • your lens cap -- and this is even optional.

Oh, and of course, your trusty camera.

So here we go.

Trace your lens cap onto your paper and cut it out. If you don't have a lens cap, just trace your lens instead, and then add a teeny bit of allowance so your traced circle is slightly bigger than your lens. The advantage of using the lens cap is that it's damn easier to trace (duh) and it's already a wee bit bigger than your lens.

Cut out your desired shape on the very center of your paper circle. I suggest you keep your shape small (about 1 cm) and simple, and with details pronounced (like if it's a star, make its 'arms' really stick out).

You now have your bokeh 'filter'.

Cover your camera lens with your paper filter. The tiny extra in the paper's size will help it fit smugly on and stick to your lens without having to use any adhesive.

Now shoot!

As I mentioned, it takes a little experimenting. Try different positions of your filter, or different angles of picture-taking. When I first tried the heart-shaped bokeh, I got all sorts of results...

from boring funnel shapes...

to vertical Pacmans.

But then I got the hang of it...

and I went on to make bokeh in my favorite shape -- stars!

And that concludes my afternoon of playing with bokeh. Stay tuned in for more no-fuss craziness like this (and yes, probably more sneak peeks of my baby panda pillow).


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