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How to Photography - DIY Bokeh!

Updated on February 22, 2017

How to Photography - Make your own Bokeh!

Tired of hum-drum family snap shots and the same old boring, ordinary-looking holiday pics? Looking for something different and professional that you would be proud to hang on your wall? Why not spice up your photos with do-it-yourself bokelicious "bokeh"? With this "how-to-photography" tutorial you can learn how to do just that!

Explore your creativity and add that extra touch to your photos that you have always been looking for! Make any shape you want from "Jack-O-Lanterns to ghoulish ghoulies and bats!

For those of you who don't know, in photography, "bokeh" is the quality of out-of-focus or "blurry" parts of an image rendered by the camera lens when you take a picture. It comes from the Japanese word "boke" which means blur or haze. "Bokeh" makes photographs visually appealing and is one of the most popular subjects in photography today. It gives pictures a dreamy, outer worldly look and adds a touch of class to your shots .

You can make your own "bokeh" appear any shape you want but with today's "how-to-photography" tutorial I'm going to show you how to make Halloween shaped "bokeh" with both images and words! You can easily change the shape later to anything you want by applying the same techniques explained below. Excited? Want to learn more? Let's get started then!

Photo Credit: Boo by Arnaud S.

The Magic of Bokeh in Books and DVD. - From lensbaby tips to an incredible plug-in software for stunning simulated bokeh effects!

Don't have a DSLR camera or prime lens kit? This author recommends Alien Skin Bokeh, an absolutely amazing program that will simulate stunning bokeh effects on any shot! Works on both Windows and Mac platforms. This software is easy to use with many types of bokeh shapes and effects to choose from. No need to be a computer geek to quickly produce amazing results. Well worth a try.

How to Make Halloween "bokeh" or bokeh for any occasion. - First of all, let me tell you that there has been a lot said about DIY "bokeh" but this one in my exp

picture what you will need
picture what you will need

What you will need:

a black piece of cardboard that won't let the light through (I used a black plastic binder)

a pair of scissors

scotch tape

a permanent marker with a fine tip (I used a Sharpie Fine Point)

some transparent plastic to draw your "bookeh" shapes (I used one of those plastic sheets you use for laminating)

You will also need a "fast" lens like the one seen in this picture. - A 50mm f1.8 will do nicely.

canon 50mm f1.8 lens
canon 50mm f1.8 lens

Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.

Note: You cannot do this with a point-and-shoot camera as you will not get the desired "bokeh" effect!

Explanation below!

Why can't I use a Point-and-Shoot? Why do I need a fast lens? - A "fast" lens has a nice large aperture which, generally speaking, will give you "better" bokeh.

Generally, portrait and telephoto lenses with large maximum apertures yield more pleasant-looking bokeh than cheaper consumer zoom lenses. So, while all lenses are capable of producing out of focus blur, not all lenses are capable of rendering beautiful bokeh. That is why, generally speaking, you cannot use a Point-and-Shoot because it will not give you the same "quality" bokeh as a fast lens. However, I must add that some Point-and-Shoot digital cameras now allow you to attach a fast lens to the camera. If this is the case then you are still in the game!

That said, so what is a good or beautiful bokeh? A good bokeh pleases our eyes and our perception of the image. With "good" bokeh, the background blur should appear soft and "creamy", with smooth round circles of light and no hard edges!

1. Let's get started. Measure the lens on the black plastic of the binder.

You will need a strip long enough to wrap around your lens.

Mark clearly where you will be cutting.

Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.
Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.

Mark where you will cut

2. Cut the strip carefully according to measure.

Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.
Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.

Make sure the newly cut strip wraps entirely around your lens. Now tape the sides of the strip.

picture of taping the sides
picture of taping the sides

3. Time to make the cover for your lens where your "bokeh" shapes will go. - Measure a circle for your lens making sure it is wide enough to cover the lens enti

Now measure the circle for the lens cap
Now measure the circle for the lens cap

You can place your lens face down (without the lens cap) and trace a line all around it or use a cup large enough to cover your lens and trace a circle around it. Either way, you want to make sure your circle covers your lens entirely.

Cut out the circle carefully.

cut out the circle carefully
cut out the circle carefully

4. Make a small hole in the center of your circle. - Measure carefully making sure it is centered. Remember, this is where your lens has to focus through so you

make a small hole in the center of your circle
make a small hole in the center of your circle

Tip: You can use a compass to find the center of your circle or else use a piece of paper exactly the same size as your circle and fold it twice in the center. This gives you the exact center where the folded lines meet. Place this over your plastic circle and mark the center.

5. Tape the lens cap onto the side strip. - Be careful to tape all around so as not to let any light in.

tape the lens cap onto the side strip
tape the lens cap onto the side strip

Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.

6. Now, add two "slots" to hold your "bokeh" shapes. - These are two strips of cardboard or plastic, one on the top and one on the bottom of your circle, where

attach side strips to hold your bokeh shapes
attach side strips to hold your bokeh shapes

This makes it easy to change your "bokeh" shapes as needed!

7. Now let's make Halloween "bokeh" shapes! - Cut a strip of transparent plastc small enough to fit into your circle slots.

cut a strip of transparent plastic
cut a strip of transparent plastic

You can use any transparent plastic for your bokeh shapes but make sure it is clear enough for your lens to focus through. - I used self-laminating sheets which

8. With your pen, draw whatever shape you would like to appear in your "bokeh". - I started off with the words "BOO"! since it IS Halloween boo-keh that we are

drawing halloween bokeh shapes
drawing halloween bokeh shapes

Tip: Use a permanent marker when you draw your shapes! I used a Sharpie Fine-Tip pen! They are excellent for small detail!

Remember, a Permanent Ink felt-tip pen is what you are looking for. - I used a "Sharpie" Fine-Point. It doesn't cost much and is an excellent pen for drawing fi

Here are all the different Halloween shapes that I drew. - I'm sure you can think of a lot more shapes. There is absolutely no end to the amount of "bokeh" that

different Halloween bokeh shapes
different Halloween bokeh shapes

My arsenal of Halloween "bokeh"!

9. You can now insert your "bokeh" shapes between the slots like this.

insert your halloween bokeh shape
insert your halloween bokeh shape

Photo Credit: how to make "bokeh" by Arnaud S.

Now you are ready to take amazing "bokelicious" shots for any occasion!

finished product
finished product

TIPS:

Focus on an object from a very close distance (as close as the lens will allow, keeping the object in focus), making sure that there are no objects at least 5-6 feet behind it.

Make sure to be on the same level as the object itself, so that you are not looking down on it.

Do not use a plain wall as your background - try to find a colorful background, preferably with some lights on it. Stringing some Christmas Tree lights up over a door can make a perfect background for a "bokeh" test!

Once you find a good test subject with a suitable background, set your camera to "Aperture Priority" mode and set your aperture to the lowest number. On most consumer zoom lenses, the lowest aperture is typically f/3.5, while on prime and professional zoom lenses, it can be between f/1.2 and f/2.8.

Once the aperture is set to the lowest value, take a picture of your subject and take a look at the rear LCD of your camera. The subject should be in focus, while the background is blurred.

If you have a good lens, the "bokeh" should be soft and fuzzy-looking, pleasing to the eye. The circular reflections should be round and soft, with no hard edges.

Some examples of Bookelicious Halloween Bokeh!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pumpkins anyone?Batty-bats away!Bookelicious BOOS!Creepy-Crawly cats!Happy Halloween Bookeh!
Pumpkins anyone?
Pumpkins anyone?
Batty-bats away!
Batty-bats away!
Bookelicious BOOS!
Bookelicious BOOS!
Creepy-Crawly cats!
Creepy-Crawly cats!
Happy Halloween Bookeh!
Happy Halloween Bookeh!

Bokeh Master kit: For those of you who aren't the "Do-It-Yourself" type. - This kit is pre-made, a lot of fun, comes with the lens cover and all kinds of bokeh

The kit works with almost any wide aperture lens with a filter size.

Tested with the following lenses: Nikon 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, 28-105mm f/3.5-f/4.5, 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, EF 50mm f/1.4, EF 85mm f/1.8, EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM, EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6, Sigma 30mm f/1.4

  • Allows you to create your own special effect images "in camera" without having to rely on post-production software
  • Can be placed over a UV filter
  • For the wedding or party photographer, this kit offers the opportunity for creating images that other photographers may not be able to replicate
  • Allows you to turn a night scene or landscape into something completely different and unique

DIY Photography Bokeh Masters Kit, Special Effects System for Portraits

Take the Halloween Bokeh Poll.

poll comments on Halloween "Boo-keh"
poll comments on Halloween "Boo-keh"

Have you ever made your own Bokeh?

See results

This lens received a purple star!

This lens won the Purple Star award. Purple Stars are awarded sporadically, for editorial excellence, to the SQUIDOO Team's very favorite lenses on the site. And only 1000 lenses are nominated each year! So you can see why this is a GREAT honor! A big THANK YOU to those who nominated this lens. For this I remain forever grateful!

My Halloween Bookeh Visitors!

Thank you for visiting! Your comments are appreciated!

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    • profile image

      juliusceazar-mulingtapang 3 years ago

      very creative and nice presentation. i have a question. is there a specific diameter for the hole? thank you.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 4 years ago

      Fun topic and great directions. Thank you.

    • BestHDCameras profile image

      BestHDCameras 4 years ago

      Nice Photography tips. Thanks.

    • profile image

      purelightphoto 4 years ago

      Great looking Lens! Cool cameras this is helpful for photography addicts like me, Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very UUU and done with such fun...I'm with Dusty, wouldn't have know what anyone was talking about but if tomorrow someone asks about bokeh, I'll be able to mentions that I just read a fascinating DIY on it...I only have a point and shoot, so have a ways to go for sure....excellence! :)

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      What an unusual one-of-a-kind lens! The graphics are great and the tutorial is fantastic. I was not aware of Bokeh before now. If someone where to ask me what it was I would just get a blank stare. However, I am now aware of it thanks to you writing this lens which I appreciate it. I like to learn something new each day and you have helped. Thank You for stopping by several of my lenses and giving each of them a "thumbs up" as i really appreciate it. Have a Great Day!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Great lens.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Great lens and indeed it is an interesting lens too :)

    • profile image

      waytomaldives 4 years ago

      very interesting DIY.

    • Just4Luck profile image

      Justin 4 years ago from Slovenija

      I find very interesting how something what is actually wrong (making a picture out of focus) can pan out really good. Thanks for explaining the art of bokeh.

    • profile image

      lionmom100 4 years ago

      This looks like fun. Too bad I don't have the right lens...yet.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      What a great lens, I can't believe I have never seen this lens before. What great information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Your instructions are very good.Very good lens.

    • profile image

      Ajeet 4 years ago

      Nice. I hope this lens did great this Halloween.

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      I liked your detailed step by step instructions.

    • profile image

      longbitbeard 4 years ago

      Very cool photo effect. With the popularity of digital filters, it's nice to see the real thing. I find the analog result to be much more appealing. Btw, I like the explanation about why point and shoot cams can't reproduce this effect. Learned something!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Again, Great lens! This looks like a lot of fun.

    • jadapotata profile image

      jadapotata 4 years ago

      Great lens! Can't wait to try it!

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 4 years ago

      Well deserved purple star, you have a great start in Squidoo. Blessings

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      Now this is fun and educational lens. Congratulations on purple star, it is well deserved!

    • profile image

      sailor_man 4 years ago

      super lens

    • profile image

      lobsterclaws 4 years ago

      great tutorial!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Wonderful ideas!

    • Mr-Panda LM profile image

      Mr-Panda LM 4 years ago

      This is a great lens! I really likes all of your ideas =)

    • kopox profile image

      kopox 4 years ago

      that is cool trick and nice tutorial... i always want to do it myself, just have not got the right time :D

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      @bidandrew: I second that ;)

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Wow...great tutorial!

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 4 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, your directions and photos made it look so easy. Thank you. And congrats on your purple star!

    • maryLuu profile image

      maryLuu 4 years ago

      Very interesting!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      this web site is really cool with good info.

    • TheBLU26 profile image
      Author

      TheBLU26 4 years ago

      @bidandrew: Thank you my friend! You are too kind!

    • bidandrew profile image

      bidandrew 4 years ago

      This lens is way too cool! and creative too. I'm nominating you for the lens of the day! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Different very different. I am not a gifted crafts person. Just the same great stuff.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Cool topic!