Introduction: DIY Heart Bokeh


Welcome to my tutorial on how to create this amazing photography technique!

The basic technique is known as "Bokeh."

"Whaaaaat?!?!?!?!?!?" you scream at your screen. "I don't even know how to pronounce that word!"

Don't worry, I got you. Pronunciation isn't what we're after. All we want to know is how to achieve this dang cool technique!

So before we get too invested, let's just address the elephant in the room; how many of you actually know what "Bokeh" means? My guess would be not that many of you. It's okay, we're not professionals over here - well, at least I'm not one. :)

Anyways, "Bokeh" is defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light," thank you Wikipedia.

But wait! The Bokeh that Wikipedia is referring to is the regular circle-looking thing (just Google it).

The Bokeh that I'm going to show you is created using a lens filter that alters the way the light gets rendered. So, without further ado, let's begin! I hope you guys enjoy my tutorial and actually find it useful! :)

Step 1: Gather All of the Materials That Will Be Needed

The materials that I used were:

-A DSLR camera (you need to make sure you use a camera with Manual settings! If you don't, your picture won't turn out right)

-A prime lens with a large aperture, for example 1.8 or 2.0 (I used a 3.5 - 5.6 lens, that's why everything is more blurry and not as crisp...but that's what I was going for!)

-A lens cap for tracing the filter

-A tripod, or a makeshift one (I used a freakin' ladder thing, just make sure it's a flat and stable surface ;) )

-Thick paper in a dark colour (this is going to be the filter so it doesn't matter too muchabout which colour it is - I used black though, to be safe)

-A pencil for tracing

-Scissors, or an X-acto Knife (make sure you use something that will give you precise lines, since the design will be tiny)

-TONS of lights (bust out all of those Christmas decorations!)

-A background that the lights will go against (I used my bedroom door)

-Something to hang the lights from (I used two door hook things - I don't really know where I got them from)

-And of course, a subject to photograph (I used myself!)

Step 2: Create the Filter

To make the filter, you need to trace and cut out several shapes of the lens cap - this will give you the right size for the filter. Once you have done that, it's time for the fun part!

You can create many different designs for your Bokeh - just make sure they are easy enough to cut out. I had to use smaller scissors (eyebrow scissors because why not?) to get a more precise-looking heart. Roughly draw your design, then cut it out; you'll be left with your very own Bokeh filter. You can twist off the sky light lens/protective lens (the outermost, clear lens) and pop the filter in - the filter will go against the actual lens and will stay in place when you put the sky light lens back in place. By putting your filter in this way - rather than using tape - you won't be left with the sticky residue from the tape, and it will allow you to use and reuse the filters! Hooray!

********************************Just a quick disclaimer***************************************************

Make sure your design is centered and small. If your cut-out is too big, the Bokeh effect won't work. In fact, the number one reason why this technique doesn't work is because the design is too big. So just keep in mind that you may need to test out your design several times before finally getting the effect you like; hence the reason why I said to cut out several shapes of the lens and to make a simple design. Also, if your entire lens filter is too big, just trim off a bit around the entire circle.

Trust me, I had to make like a million different filters before getting the right heart and the right circle. At one point, I was about to give up; I was so frustrated and confused and I just wanted my Bokeh to work. I was discouraged when my first lens failed me, and became more depressed as the others failed too. But I read a few other people's blogs, and I picked up some tricks from them. Thank God for them! You guys can check them out, too, if my post is confusing (which it is).

Step 3: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

I waited until it was late at night to start shooting my pictures. I wanted it to be as dark as possible in my room (it was pitch black) so that the lights could stand out and look more bright. In addition to the aforementioned, I am a HUGE PROCRASTINATOR, and I waited until late at night to start shooting ~~my bad~~. I like the result I got from shooting at night and I would definitely try it again. I'm pretty sure the Bokeh effect wouldn't work in the sunlight, but it might look really cool during a sunrise or sunset. I might try shooting st those times, too, one day.

Step 4: Camera Settings

Before you begin to shoot in pitch black darkness, you want to figure out your camera settings. You want to make sure that the camera mode and the lens focus are both set to "M," meaning manual. The settings that I used came from experimenting and messing around with the setting numbers, so feel free to do the same.

For this particular picture, I had my shutter speed set to 1/125 of a second, and the ISO to 6400. I had the aperture set to the lowest number - f5.6 - since it's ideal in the creation of the Bokeh effect. These are just the settings that I used and liked. You don't have to set your settings to the ones I used, it's okay to have fun with your artwork! :)

Some tips that I got from

for shooting at night are:

"-Set your aperture to its widest setting 1.8, 2.0, 2.8…"

"- Increase your ISO depending on how much light is available."

"- Use a tripod to help stabilize your images"

"- Turn off the auto-focus and manipulate the focus ring. Looking through the view finder, you'll see [your design] appear before your very eyes!"

Make sure you completed the other steps before moving onto the final one!

Step 5: Have FUN!!!

Now turn off the lights and go make some DIY Bokeh! Just have fun with this technique and adjust your settings and designs as you go! :) Happy Crafting!