Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5-Minute Heart-Shaped Bokeh Photography

Heart-shaped bokeh is a popular photography trick for Valentine's Day or any time you want to show a little extra love in your photographs. All you need is five minutes and a few basic supplies, and you can be shooting heart-shaped bokeh.

Supplies for Heart-Shaped Bokeh

You could always buy a shaped-bokeh kit, but why bother when you likely already have all the supplies to make your own?

As pictured, all you need are

  • A piece of black paper (thicker cardstock works best)
  • A rubber band
  • A piece of tape
  • Scissors
  • A 50mm lens

You can get extra crafty and use an x-acto knife for making the really small cuts, but a sharp scissors works well for cutting both sides of the heart at once. You could even use a heart-shaped hole punch, if you happen to have one.

Now, start your timer for five minutes, and by the end of it you should easily have been able to

  • Cut a piece of black cardstock an inch or so thick and long enough to wrap around your 50 mm lens. Roll it around the lens and tape it together.
  • Trace around your 50 mm lens to make a circle. Cut it out, leaving a half inch or so all the way around. Cut notches from the outside into the traced circle, which you will later bend to secure the circle onto the front of the lens.
  • Fold the circle in half and re-open at least twice to find the exact center. Trace your heart or be brave and skip right to cutting it out. For an introductory 50mm kit lens, you can make your shape up about 17 mm long. (Here's the article on the math behind that, if you are curious.)

And, that's it. Place the roll over your 50 mm lens, hold the circle with the heart in front of your lens, and use the rubber band to secure the folded flaps around the outside of the roll. Now you need to find yourself a bokeh source, set up your subject, and start shooting.

Setting Up and Photographing Shaped Bokeh

If you need a little more background on bokeh, you may want to click on and read the posts All about Bokeh and Shaped Bokeh for more details and examples of bokeh and how to.

You will need a point light source to create the bokeh and turn into the heart shapes: a string of lights works well. I recommend using a dark background, if possible, to hang the lights. You can use a wall or a dark set of curtains if you do not have a backdrop. (The difficulty with a lighter-colored backdrop is that you will end up seeing the wires between the lights, rather than just the lights themselves.)

Consider using a tripod for your camera. You will be shooting at the widest aperture you can (f/1.8 or faster, hopefully, if you are using a 50 mm f/1.8 lens for example), but putting the heart shape in front of the lens will cut down on the amount of light reaching the sensor and require a longer shutter speed. Shoot in manual or aperture priority, set the aperture to f/1.8 or faster, and work from there. Consider using a flash if you want to illuminate only the subject and leave the background darker. Use a remote or 2-second countdown timer to avoid camera shake on the tripod.

You want to get your subject as close the camera as possible, while keeping the background and lights at least twice as far away. The closer-in the camera can focus, the larger the final bokeh hearts will be. You may need to experiment a bit to find the best locations for your given subject.

Summary: Heart-Shaped Bokeh Photography

Now you are ready to shoot your own heart-shaped bokeh in five minutes or less. You could create an image for your own Valentine's Day cards or just for fun. You can apply the same ideas to creating other shapes, as well.

What will you create?  Share a link or picture in the comments below!

5-Minute Heart-Shaped Bokeh | Boost Your Photography

Want more great ideas? Follow Boost Your Photography on Pinterest: Boost Your Photography

This post is also linked to Do Tell TuesdayOne Project at a Time, and What I Learned Wednesday.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...