Christmas lights Bokeh 

The Bokeh effect is created when specular highlights - such as you get from single points of light ( like light bulbs and fairy lights ) are de-focused with a very wide aperture. 

These pictures were taken at home using  our Christmas tree and shot quickly without a tripod. The lens is focused right at the front of the shot and with a very wide aperture the tiny christmas lights become enormous.  You can see the difference it makes when the Aperture is all the way open at 2.8 – compared to the shots taken at  F8 and F22. Even F4 is noticeably Sharper.

The most blurred images are my favourites. The light circles become enormous with the lens at 35mm and they are very sharp despite the lack of actual lens focus.

At F22 everything is sharp - even though the actual point of focus is at the extreme front of the image. The small aperture sharpens everything. At F8 we see some blur but we don't have the effect we are after until the lens is wide open at F2.8.

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F2.8 with the zoom at 16mm. As well as creating the pretty circles of light F2.8 also blurs the rest of the image so that there is nothing to distract from the subject.

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TECHNIQUE

Prep

Turn all the lights off except the Tree

Camera Manual Mode

ISO 400/800

Aperture Select your Widest Aperture which is probably F3.5

Shutter Select 1/60 sec to start with and adjust to get the correct exposure.

AF Single Shot AF Focus on something very close to the camera (as close as you can focus) turn Auto Focus off on the lens or hold button for Focus Lock.

Recompose with tree and take picture.

Review and repeat if necessary after making adjustments.

Alter Exposure by changing Shutter Speed or ISO – keep Aperture at 2.8. 

TIP  You should be able to do this without a tripod. If you notice any Camera shake however support the camera on a cushion or place it on the floor and use Self Timer to remove any shake. Use slim books or magazines to lift the lens if necessary

F2.8 - the widest aperture on my 16-35mm zoom. This and the next are my favourite images. Still clearly a Christmas Tree but with the lens at 35mm the spherical light abberations or Bokeh are enlarged even more. PH

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Shooting in Raw and Processed in Photoshop using Perfect Effects to enhance tonal range

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CHRISTMAS LIGHTS BOKEH EFFECT

Our Friday night 9&10 group making Christmas light Bokeh blur images on the Southbank. Working handheld in very dark conditions so the Aperture was necessarily wide open and that is what was needed. Shutter speed was either 1/30th or 1/60th – depending on which camera they were using (Our Canon 1000Ds only stretch to 1600 ISO but the 1100Ds go to 6400 ISO)

With a tripod it would also be possible to slow the shutter and lower te ISO to improve quality 


Cordelia

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Tilly

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Christmas Light trails 

This technique is straightforward but tricky. for best results set the camera on a rtripod and set a shutter between 1/1/4 sec and 1/30th sec. Zoom in and focus on the tree and then as you push the shutter button zoom out. The Tree should remain well defined but the Christmas lights will streak forward.  Open the aperture to F4 or F5.6 if you want to include a small bokeh effect. 

The next shot is a combination of the 2 techniques. A wide 2.8 aperture and a shutter speed of 1/30th sec with zooming action during the exposure. You can see that the central area is much sharper and the zoom blur can start to be seen at the edges of the frame

F4 with zoom at 1/30th Sec

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