How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh

December 13, 2011

in Keli Hoskins, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

5 Tips for Photographing Holiday Lights Bokeh by Keli Hoskins for iHeartFaces.com

Beautiful seasonal photos are taking over the web this month…the holidays are upon us, and one of the best things about photographing the season is the built-in bokeh inside or outside your own house. Bokeh can be defined in many ways, but for the sake of this tutorial, we’re learning about the festive circles of light behind your subject.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

Capturing the beautiful holiday lights in the background of your pictures is quite simple if you follow these tips:

1. Use the largest aperture possible on your lens

[largest aperture / wide open aperture = smallest aperture number]. So, if you have a f/1.4 lens, open that aperture all the way up to 1.4. If you don’t have a 1.4 lens, don’t fret – just make sure your aperture is set to the smallest number that your lens can handle.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

ISO 640 * 50mm * f/1.8 * 1/125 sec shutter speed

2. The more open your aperture, the larger the orbs

– so if you close your aperture down to f/2.8 or f/3.5, your bokeh orbs will be smaller. Also, each lens will create its own unique bokeh, so play around with different lenses. When I used to shoot with an Olympus, all of my bokeh was hexagon-shaped.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

ISO 200 * 50mm * f/1.8 * 1/640 sec shutter speed

3. The farther away from the background your subject is, the larger the bokeh orbs.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

ISO 640 * 50mm * f/1.8 * 1/125 sec shutter speed

If your lens doesn’t open up to 1.4 or 1.8, then you could pull your subject farther away from the lights to make larger bokeh.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

ISO 800 * 70mm * f/2.8 * 1/80 sec shutter speed

4. You can always create your own bokeh with strings of lights.

Here, you can see my coffee cup setup to try to capture “steam” in bokeh.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces
(Photo left: set-up; photo right: final shot)

5. You can also switch your lens over to manual focus

Open up your aperture and then manually adjust your lens slightly out of focus [still keeping an eye on your exposure] to get pictures like this.

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh - Photography Tutorial - I Heart Faces

Share your beautiful holiday bokeh photos on the I Heart Faces Facebook Page or on Instagram using hashtag #iHeartFaces!

keli Keli Hoskins is a natural light photographer located in South Carolina who captures the everyday in her photos and embraces the reality of having three kids, 7 and under. She loves coffee, running, her iPhone, making her kids laugh and finding beautiful little pockets of light. She blogs at Kidnapped by Suburbia, and you can follow her daily iPhone captures on Instagram.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsey @Dishing Up Hope December 19, 2013

Love these ideas. Taking some pictures tonight!

Reply

podwiatr December 17, 2011

I just LOVE the coffee cup solution. Christmas is perfect for getting a marvellous bokeh. I’ve also tried it with fireworks on New Years Eve using the manual focus. In the summerI also like playing with splashes of water and bushes in the background. I’m vested with a Pancolar Carl Zeiss 5omm f/1.8 lens. I am aware of its possibilities when it comes to bokeh but I somehow feel I haven’t acquired the best of it yet.

Reply

MommyCast December 16, 2011

Tips for beautiful holiday photos: How to Capture Holiday Light Bokeh http://t.co/EKJR82vw

Reply

Melissa Michaels December 13, 2011

Want to learn how to create beautiful bokeh with your holiday lights? Check out this great tutorial on I Heart… http://t.co/qqdUQbBY

Reply

keli December 13, 2011

oh yeah … i'm also over here today http://t.co/07YYxDpp @iHeartFaces

Reply

Shutterfly December 13, 2011

Great tips on capturing Holiday Light Bokeh http://t.co/IrdWN26F via @iheartfaces

Reply

Amy Locurto December 13, 2011

Want to learn how to create beautiful bokeh with your holiday lights? Check out this great tutorial on I Heart… http://t.co/qqdUQbBY

Reply

Geoff J Coates December 13, 2011

Learn how to Capture Holiday Lights Bokeh on @iheartfaces today! http://t.co/qbHKhM0X

Reply

Angie December 13, 2011

Learn how to Capture Holiday Lights Bokeh on @iheartfaces today! http://t.co/qbHKhM0X

Reply

Robin Troxell December 13, 2011

coffee cup pic = brilliant

Reply

Raye December 13, 2011

Thanks for the inspiring post Keli! I’ve been procrastinating about getting my decorations up. You’ve given me some fun ideas that should get me moving :)

Reply

Jennifer December 13, 2011

Can’t wait to practice!

Reply

Dion December 13, 2011

Thanks for the tip about using out-of-focus shots to create the bokeh look!

Reply

koreen December 13, 2011

Love the coffee steam idea! I’ve never heard of doing that for bokeh! :)

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 18 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: