It’s Christmas-time, and that means lights galore! Lights galore plus a prime lens means crazy light bokeh. Here’s a fun way you can add a twist to your Christmas light bokeh photos: custom bokeh! All you need to make this, besides a camera and some lights, is some black construction paper/card stock, a straight-edge craft knife, and black electrical tape. I also highly recommend a couple of custom paper punches, but they aren’t strictly necessary. You’ll also want to channel your inner-MacGyver.
I first read about creating custom bokeh a couple of years ago and tested it back then, but with poorly-made shapes I cut free-hand. Since then, this DIY photography idea has gained a lot of popularity, and there is now even a kit for it! If all of this sounds like too much work, you can just purchase a pre-made custom bokeh “masters” kit for $25. But what fun is buying a kit when you can do it yourself…right?!
Most of the things you need here are pretty common household goods, so let’s start out with the most difficult part of equation: the lens. If you don’t have a fast, f/1.4-f/2.8 lens, you aren’t going to have much success doing this. I used my 50mm f/1.8 lens and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (almost exclusively above 100mm), and even neither of those are ideal lenses. They’ll work, but I’d really recommend using an 85mm f/1.8 lens if you have one. Longer primes will work even better, as will f/1.4 lenses. (more…)