Holiday Photography Fun!

Anyone into photography should try this, if not for the holidays and abundance of Christmas trees, but for the sheer awesomeness of it.

It can be done with anything really, but it’s best on Christmas trees because there’s a lot of opportunity for out-of-focus light bokeh.

Here’s an example:

Notice the heart shaped lights? Those are normal Christmas lights.

Here’s what you need.
A dark card. I used the top of a red heart shaped Hershey Kisses box, but you can use construction paper or another type of card.
A knife. I used an exacto knife. Or you could use a hole-puncher type thing.
A camera, for obvious reasons.

Basically, you need to do this:

Whatever shape you cut out will be the shape of your highlights. The shape is roughly the size of a penny.

Then, you need to choose what you’re going to photograph. I did a Christmas tree. You can do anything that’ll give you a unique bokeh pattern whenever you defocus, but lights work best because of the strong shapes they produce, and Christmas trees with lights work best because there’s a lot of lights.

So, get ready to take the picture like normal. Then, hold the card in front of the camera lens, pretty much touching the lens. Get it around the center of the lens. Look through the viewfinder and it should look normal. Then you have to be in manual focus and focus anywhere but on what you’re taking a picture of. The more defocused your object is, the bigger the shapes will be. You should be able to see the shape just barely in the viewfinder, but when you take the picture they’ll definitely show.

As you can see in my picture, the hearts are a little rough, because my cutting skills suck.

Another neat thing, because of the way the light enters the lens, this will pretty much only affect the out-of-focus areas of your picture. So, you can set up lights in the background of a portrait, apply this concept, and have a portrait of your wife/significant other with heart shaped bokeh in the background.

Yes, awesome, I know.

Here’s an example.

NOTE: All my shots were taken handheld. With them being out-of-focus, camera shake is less of an issue. It’s a dark and rainy day, so you can see in that last picture some blur from the low shutter speed. You could very well use a tripod if you’re going for an in-focus and out-of-focus effect.

NOTE2: You can probably do this with any camera, but I did these with a DSRL. The exact lens was a 50mm, f1.7, shot at f2. If you’re using a point-and-shoot camera, your lens is probably a lot smaller than this, and you might have to cut a smaller shape to get the same effect.