Introduction: Make Bokeh Dots - Circles of Confusion

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Bokeh are the out of focus parts of an image, but sometimes when people say "bokeh" they're referring to the out of focus highlights you see in this picture. If these highlights fall outside of the depth of field for your picture, they can produce an artistic and dramatic effect.

These out of focus highlights are actually called "circles of confusion", and result from points of light - like street lights, and string-lights being out of focus in an image. For clarity's sake (ironically enough) we'll just call these dots bokeh for this instructable.

It doesn't require any special equipment - just follow a few simple steps to create bokeh circles of your own. 

Step 1: Look for Bright Dots

Christmas lights, city lights, and highways at night are perfect for this. Use Christmas lights for complete control over the distribution of the dots. Anything with highlight points will create the effect. 

Step 2: Focus on Something Close

If your camera doesn't offer manual focus, focus on something up close, and make sure the point highlights are far away. You'll immediately see them grow to the bokeh you're trying to shoot. To change the size of the dots, just focus on something closer or further. 

If your camera offers manual mode, just change to that setting and turn the ring until you're happy with the result. 

Step 3: Change the Shape

The shape of the bokeh represent the shape of the hole the light is coming through. In most situations that means it's the shape of the lens's aperture, but you can modify the shape by cutting a hole in a piece of card stock and placing it in front of the lens. 

Step 4: Open Your Aperture

If your camera offers manual aperture control, set it to the widest setting. Lens focal length and aperture value determine the maximum size of the bokeh more than anything else. Both of these factors allow that part of the image to be more out of focus than they would be otherwise. 

Step 5: Learn More About Bokeh at Picture Like This

Learn all about bokeh and circles of confusion here - some of the content is outside of the scope of this instructable. Check out Picture Like This, our Photo 101 series, and our other photography tutorials to get the most out of the camera you have. After all - knowledge is power!

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