Photography Tips

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

February 14, 2017

Bokeh Hearts TutorialWhether you’re celebrating Valentines or Galentines Day today, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a bokeh hearts tutorial.

What are bokeh hearts you ask? Bokeh is from the Japanese word boke which means blur. So no surprises that Bokeh in photography means out of focus lights which create this blurry effect. It’s very romantic looking and perfect for some valentines day photography!

You might have unintentionally achieved bokeh before. If you’ve taken a photo at night with a wide aperture (small f-stop like f.1.8mm) then you may have achieved blurry lights in the background. We’re going to take that effect and instead of round bokeh lights, we are going to create bokeh hearts!

So let’s get lovin….

 

How to make Bokeh Hearts

You will need:

Thin Black Cardboard

Pencil

Scissors

Camera & Lens with wide aperture (i.e. f2.0, f1.8 or less)

Small fairy lights

Tripod (optional but it will help in dark settings).

 

Instructions:

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

1. If you have a filter on your lens then take it off your lens. Trace around the filter to get a round circle. If you don’t have a filter then just a compass or a round object to create a circle the same size as your lens.

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

2. Find the middle of the circle and draw a horizontal and vertical line through it to create a cross.

3. Then you need to draw a heart which is actually the trickiest part.

Your camera will need to ‘see’ through the heart so you don’t have a black vignette around your images. To find the correct size you will need to divide the lens’ focal length by the aperture you are using. (NB: this heart hole will happen to mirror how wide the lens is open – aka the aperture).

Bokeh Heart Tutorial

So my heart needs to fit in a box that’s 28mm wide like the image above.  Math lesson over – hooray!

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

4. Fold the shape in half on the vertical line and cut out your heart.

5. You will probably need to trim your circle so it fits in your filter.  Once trimmed, place the circle into the filter and place the filter back onto your lens. If you don’t have a filter then you might want to tape the excess paper over the top of your lens. Just make sure there isn’t any light apart from the heart shape.

The heart should always be upright in your lens. So if you turn your camera to take portrait photos then you’ll also need to adjust your heart so it’s upright too.

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

6. Find some lights to capture your bokeh image. In the set up below I’ve used some mini fairy lights on a darker background so they are easy to see. They don’t have to be perfectly set apart but each light will represent a bokeh heart.

Set your aperture to the aperture you chose to measure your heart (f1.8 in my example above). Put your camera on your tripod and get ready for the magic!

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial

There are a few ways to get the bokeh:

Just bokeh lights: If you just want to have bokeh lights with nothing in the background then you can switch your lens onto manual focus. It’s the little MF switch  on the left of your lens if you’re using Canon. Then adjust the focus by twisting the lens barrel. You will be able to see the lights go in and out of focus in the camera. You’ll probably be able to see the hearts come into too but you can adjust it until you get the desired look. This look is often great when you are taking pictures of a city skyline.

Bokeh lights in the background: Bokeh also looks really pretty when you have an object in focus in the foreground and then the bokeh lights in the background. You can use auto focus to focus on the object in front and then change the ISO and shutter speed to adapt the light in the image. Make sure you move the object far enough away from the lights so you get that nice bokeh blur in the background (see set up above).

Bokeh Hearts Tutorial135mm lens/ f2.0
Bokeh Hearts Tutorial50mm lens / f1.8mm

 

 

Of course you can try all different types of shapes for your bokeh. Stars are often really popular but you could also try other shapes like hexagons or diamonds.

You can also just try to do bokeh without a shape too. Here is an example of some bokeh lights I did at Christmas too.

Hope you’ll have some fun trying out this tutorial! Happy bokeh-ing!

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