Blog

Mila Szolkowska / photography  / Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos – counting down to Christmas – day 13
Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos – counting down to Christmas – day 13

If you look around they are everywhere. Especially during the winter season. Composed into photos in a way to give them this special kind of cosiness. Sometimes one big, sometimes bunch of small ones gathered into eye catching patterns. Yes, yes, the topic of today’s post is bokeh.

During the weekend I took for fun some photos with bokeh. The Christmas bauble made by one of my mom’s very skilled students is the main character of the photos. Her handmade skills are definitely on a high level.

What is bokeh?

Bokeh comes up on your photos when parts of the photos are out of focus. The bauble is in focus, but the lights are not, and thanks to that, the blurred light circles pop up. For the photo below, I used three chains of Christmas lights. You will read about kinds and their placement later on.

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

How to create it?

To get a nice bokeh effect, you need to have a bright lens. That means that the aperture of your lens should have low values. The lowest, the better, but between 1.4 and 2 should be ok. I used Nikkor lens with aperture of 1.8. The aperture value has direct impact on the brightness of photos as well as the shape of bokeh, which you can see on the images taken with different aperture values. For the images above I used aperture value of 1.8, but for a comparison below you can see how that effect changes with different values.

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

Aperture value: 2.2 

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

Aperture value: 4.5

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

Aperture value: 4.5

The setup

The main light came from the window behind the wooden table. The bauble was placed at around 30cm from the camera and 35 cm to the chain of Christmas lights. The other chain of Christmas lights with bigger bulbs hung in the other side of the room.

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos
Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

The lights position

The following photos show what kind of lights were used to create the photos. I placed the light from the black chain very close to the lens (the bigger bokeh circle on the photo), the silver chain was behind the bauble, and the chain with the biggest bulbs were placed on the longest distance.

Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos
Bokeh. The magic of small lights in photos - counting down to Christmas -day 13 www.milaszolkowska.com/bokeh-the-magic-of-small-lights-in-photos

Practice

If you want to play with the effect, find the object you want to take photos of and try changing aperture together with distance to lights. Try also placing a light very close to your lens for even more interesting effect. Good luck!

Have you ever tried taking photos with bokeh effect. If so, did you find it fun? Was there something challenging?