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Holiday Lights Bokeh

December 9, 2015 by Marie Joabar

It’s a blast to shoot the holiday lights as bokeh so we wanted to give a short and sweet “How To” on just that. 

Bokeh is defined as “The visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image.” The effect is an image that is visually appealing offers the viewer an interesting photo to explore.

Whether you want to capture only the lights or position a beautiful subject in front of them, here are a few tips to help.

If you want to capture only the lights:

    1.    Find a bright strand of lights and fill the frame with them.

    2.    Put your camera in the Manual exposure mode

    3.    Use a wide aperture (f2.8, f3.5, f4)

    4.    If using a tripod:
          •  Use a low ISO (200 or 400 should work fine).
          •  Change your shutter speed until you like the brightness of your image.
            Assuming you are shooting in low light this might be some where from 1/4 sec to 1/100sec.
            Brighter or white lights might need a faster shutter speed, darker lights, a slower one.

          If you are hand-holding:
          •  Set a high ISO such as 3200
          •  Set a shutter speed of 1/60. Take a test shot and decide if adjustments are needed.
          •  If the image is too bright, raise your shutter speed.
          •  If the image is too dark, raise the ISO or use a wider aperture.

    5.    Put your lens on manual focus and blur out the lights until you like the look of them.

        Photo above shot at Focal length 70mm, Aperture 3.5, Shutter Speed 1/10, ISO 400

If you want to include a subject and blur out the background lights:

Remember, the best way to blur your background is to get close to your subject, use a wide aperture and pull your subject away from their background.
    1.    Get close to your subject - If you can’t get physically close, try using a telephoto lens.

    2.    Use a wide aperture of at least f3.5 or f4.

    3.    Position your subject at least 10 feet from their background, more will work well too.

    4.    Focus on your subject and frame them with lights.

Above all, have a blast this season capturing some beautiful holiday bokeh images!

                                Image by Donna Vance.  Focal Length: 85mm,  Aperture: f/2.5,  Shutter Speed: 1/125,  ISO: 320