Posts Tagged ‘bokeh’

Camera Tricks and Photo Tips

What do you do when you host a Christmas photo walk, register a bunch of students and then the day that once seemed so far into the future, comes around and you look outside and discover there is no snow?  Well, first you throw a bit of a tantrum but then you channel all of your creative energy, raid your craft cupboard and come  up with ways to capture awesome winter photos, without snow. Here are the awesome tricks that  Susan Temme pulled out for the photo walk in Edmonton on Friday.

Making Magic with An Acrylic Picture Frame

Even with the absence of snow, we were able to create a really cool reflection that gives the look of ice or a reflecting pool in front of the Alberta Legislature Building. You can make this happen by inserting a piece of black construction paper in a plastic dollar store picture frame and then hold it underneath your lens. Experiment and tilt it around a bit until you get the effect you want, and voila!


This photo would actually be quite ordinary without the addition of our acrylic frame trick. In reality, there are actually no lights to the left of the snowman. To add some extra color and make things more interesting, we again hold the acrylic picture frame up to the lens, this time on the left side, and it reflects the lights from the right of the snowman. This definitely added some drama to our snowman photo.


Fun with Filters

Have you ever tried using a shaped filter for your bokeh shots? First, grab some black construction paper and cut a circle larger then your lens. Next, cut a shape out of the middle of your circle (Susan sort of free handed a multi-edged star). Then, tape it around your lens, set your camera to manual focus and start experimenting!


Even without snow, our last photo walk was a success! If you weren’t able to come, give these techniques a try and show us your crafty camera work on instagram @thecplc or send them to us at [email protected]



Can you bokeh?

To learn about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.

Season’s greetings! A mini Holiday Bokeh tutorial

In this festive season of last minute gift buying, endless Christmas carols, and overindulging in delicious food, we at CPLC would like to remind you that this is also the perfect time of year to pull out your cameras and flex your photographic muscles as a way to combat that tryptophan induced turkey coma. Yes, you can take beautiful portraits of your friends and family, but don’t forget to take advantage of all the stunning Christmas lights/displays to create some unique and creative photos of Christmas Bokeh.

“Holiday Bokeh” – Say What?!

Without delving into sciencey jargon, “bokeh” can be described as the way your lens depicts out of focus areas/points of light, or even more simply, the background blur. Have you seen photos where lights in the background are out of focus, and instead of just being a point, they take on these creamy, soft, and defocused circular shapes? Those out of focus shapes are an example of light bokeh, that you can easily achieve in your photos.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, the subjects in focus are the pepsi bottles and a branch in the foreground, while the lights peeking through the trees in the background are out focus, so they get rendered as bokeh. Points of light that are not in focus will take generally on the shape of your lens’ aperture (usually circular). The larger your aperture (or the smaller your f/ number) is set to while taking these photos, the larger the bokeh shapes will be.

Your turn to try!

A couple points to note – in order to make lights on the Christmas tree appear as bokeh circles, they should be

1) out of focus, and
2) photographed with a large aperture.

This is easily done by setting your lens’ aperture to it’s smallest f/number (ie: f/ 3.5, or lower if your lens is able). Then take a photo where you focus on something (the cat, a gift wrapped present, grandma, etc) in the foreground, while the christmas lights are further away in the background. The farther apart your subject is from the background, the more pronounced the bokeh will be.

Calgary photography classes

Even if you don’t have a willing foreground subject because they are all passed out from the Turkey induced coma, you can still take bokeh Christmas lights photos easily. Try setting your lens to manual focus, and intentionally focussing to where a foreground subject would be, while leaving the lights of the Christmas tree in the background out of focus.

Calgary photography classes

Calgary photography classes

In the above examples, neither the lights on the Christmas tree or the reindeer display are in focus, and because they were shot with a large aperture, they become large circular bokeh shapes. Try it out for yourself, it’s very simple to do, and takes little set up.

We hope this mini tutorial helps kickstart your Christmas creativity, and we would love to hear from you in the comments how your adventures with holiday bokeh turn out. From all of us at the CPLC, wishing you and yours a happy holiday season filled with fun, food, and photos!

To learn more about these principles and put them into practice, take Using Your DSLR or Mirrorless Camera and Getting Proper Exposures at the CPLC.