5 Steps to Custom Bokeh
Lifestyle
5 Steps to Custom Bokeh

Items needed:
Fast Prime lens (I used a 50mm 1.4) **The main thing is to use a fast, wide open aperture, such as 1.8 or 1.4. **
Black cardstock or construction paper
Scissors
Exacto knife (optional)
Shaped whole punches (optional)
Pencil
Tape

  • No.
    01
    Step 1

    Cut a band of cardstock to fit around the base of your lens and tape the ends so that you can slip it around snugly. I made my band roughly around an inch and a half.

  • No.
    02
    Step 2

    Measure and cut a circle around the size of the circumference of the band. It should be able to cover the band you just made. You can use a circle cutter or do what I did and just traced around my lens cap. I then cut it just slightly larger than what I traced.

  • No.
    03
    Step 3

    Cut a shape through the middle of the circle. You can use decorative hole punches, or an exacto knife, but I just folded the circle and cut a heart through the middle.

  • No.
    04
    Step 4

    Tape all around the circle to your band, and slip it over your lens like a lens hood.

  • No.
    05
    Step 5

    Using your widest aperture, find something that will give you nice bokeh (like Christmas lights or street lights) and manually “unfocus” until you see the lights start to take shape! Or, focus on something close to you with the bokeh lights in the background. Here are some pictures of some bokeh coming through the dappled light of the tree outside our yard.

**Helpful tips**
-You may need to use a tripod since the bokeh hood will let in less light.

-If you want to focus on something, try to have it as far away from the lights as possible, to make the bokeh stand out more.

-Experiment with different shapes and sizes!

31 Comments
  • January 17, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    Love this! Very easy to follow. I can’t wait to experiment. The coffee mug is so fun.

  • January 17, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! Very easy to follow!

  • January 17, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Oh my goodness, this is awesome! That shot of the mug sums up nicely how I feel about my morning (and midmorning and lunchtime…) coffee.

  • Trisha
    January 17, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Janell, You’re the BOMB. So glad we’re related. ;)) I can’t wait to try this out.

  • January 17, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    ahh thanks for the sweet intro! I really wish I had gotten better bokeh pictures for you!

  • January 17, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    This is great! Love the little heart bokeh. . .totally on my list to try!

  • January 17, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    How fun is that? I’ve seen custom shaped bokeh before but I never knew how to do it. Awesome!

    Catherine :)

  • January 17, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    How awesome! I love this simple idea and it creates such beautiful pictures! Thanks Janell!

  • January 17, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    I cannot wait to try this!! How cool!

    Thank you so much for this write-up! :)

  • January 18, 2011 at 1:37 AM

    Great tutorial. Thanks! :)

  • January 18, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Awesome tutorial…

  • January 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    Janell, you totally are the bomb. Now I have something else on my list to try. I may try this one first and leave the reversed lens/macro tutorial (you sent me) for later.

    Courtney, thanks for sharing!!!

  • January 18, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    Can’t wait to try this one out! :-)

  • January 19, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    Awesome! I’ve never tried this out. I keep meaning to. Now I really have no excuse!

  • January 19, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    This is awesome. Thanks. I will try it this week. I tried it last year with my granddaughters, hoping to get a valentine shot, but it was a disaster. I know more this year…I’ll try it again…how can I fail with thse great instructions??

  • February 9, 2011 at 8:38 AM

    i love this! i think i might try to make a butterfly. do you think that will work as well?

    • February 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM

      I think so! I would love to see your end result!

  • kristin
    February 11, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t wait to give it a try!

  • December 8, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    ohh love it! trying this right now!

    • Courtney
      December 11, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Hope you had fun playing with bokeh!

  • Serendipity is sweet
    December 8, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Fun post! I love playing with bokeh this time of year. I just posted about it here:
    http://www.serendipityissweet.com/2012/12/holiday-bokeh-fun.html?m=1

    Love your hearts! Very cool ;)

    • Courtney
      December 11, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      How fun!! Love the one of your daughter sleeping!

  • Carmela Gersbeck
    November 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    This is by far the best tutorial I’ve seen for this. I have been meaning to try it for two years, and you made it seem so simple! Thanks for posting and I am looking forward to trying it.

    • November 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

      Awesome! I hope you will post your photos on our Facebook wall once you try it :)

  • November 16, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Wonderful write up! I look forward to trying it for myself soon!

  • February 25, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Awesome! Will have to try this, thanks!

  • Candace
    February 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Amazing! Although, I tried this after reading your article and I was wondering how you got the cup so clear with the lights in the background??

    ~new at this~

    • February 28, 2014 at 3:13 PM

      Hey Candace,

      If you place you focal point on the cup/subject it should be in focus :)

  • Maria Riley
    December 16, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    Janell, this is awesome!

  • Sonja Carree
    November 30, 2016 at 5:06 PM

    This is awesome . Thank you .

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