Monday, December 8, 2008

Making Your Xmas Tree Interesting - Part I, Circular Bokeh

So, it's freezing out, you're stuck inside, and itching to take a shot.  How about pointing the camera at your xmas tree?

I was just that bored the other night, so, I opened the aperture on my 50mm f/1.4 all the way, then focused as close as the lens would allow, then snapped a couple shots of our tree.  I got plenty of really pretty, colorful circles.  It was nice, but I wanted to mix things up just a little bit.  So, I started holding objects in front of the lens, hoping to change the shapes of the bokeh.  In this shot here, it was just a single finger.  I'm sure I don't understand the optics of why a finger turns up in every bokeh, but it does, so have fun with it!

Of course, throw in some contrast and color during post-processing, and you're set.  You've got something that might just make people wonder what they're looking at.

Using the widest aperture will give you the circular bokeh that we're looking for here.  At this widest aperture, the aperture blades aren't in use.  As soon as you stop down even 1/3 of a stop, they'll come into play, giving you octagonal, heptagonal,  hexagonal, or pentagonal, depending on whether you have 8, 7, 6, or 5 blades in your aperture.

And this time of year, there's lights up everywhere!  Take your telephoto out with you when you're driving around at night (just be careful!).  Shoot your neighbors' outdoor decorations completely out of focus.  Remember, for the cleanest circles, you're going to need to use the widest aperture your lens has (the smallest number).   

I'd love to see your shots - please post them to the F-Stopping Flickr Group, and tag your shots with:


View everyone's tagged photos here.

Happy shooting!!

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