T'was the night before Christmas & Bokeh

Christmas 2015 was both my niece Sophie and nephew Adam's first Christmas. Naturally both my sisters wanted photos of this. Working with children can be the most rewarding experience, so long as they co-operate. If not you find yourself doing all sorts of things and making all sorts of deals in order to create very short windows of opportunities for a shot. A top tip would be to bring loads of sweeties or toys and use them for negotiation purposes. Yes, you probably will find yourself in a heated barter with your 3 year old model, just roll with it. 


You will notice in the above shots the lights of the Christmas tree's are blurred out and looking bigger than what they actually are. This technique is called 'Bokeh' and when used correctly can look beautiful in all sorts of situations. (Demonstrated with the blue arrows)

So how is this done? Aperture.

Aperture is the hole inside your camera lens. On most lenses this can change size based on the lighting conditions of the situation you are in or what you tell the camera to set it to. 

Apertures might sometimes have an 'f/' or 'f stop' symbol in front of it. For instance if I wrote 'f/22' I would be saying aperture 22. 

An f/22 is a very small aperture (small hole in the lens). An f/1.8 is a very large aperture (large hole in the lens). The larger the number the smaller the hole in the lens. Still with me? 

Okay so what do these large apertures and small apertures do differently?

  Image from google images

Image from google images

A small aperture like f/22 lets less light into the camera sensor and is therefor helpful in really bright situations. f/22 also means more of the shot will be in focus (deep depth of field). A large aperture like f/1.8 lets more light in and is therefore better for low light situations. f/1.8 also means less of the image will be in focus (shallow depth of field)

The Christmas shots above used an aperture of f/1.8 in order to create this shallow depth of field. If you look at the images you will notice that the subjects are sharp, but the background on the image is blurry. This is what 'shallow depth of field' is. Using this technique with small lights in the background then gives you what we call Bokeh (light balls). You can use this technique with street lights, car lights , traffic lights and all sorts of other light sources.

Overview - use a large aperture like f/1.8 (large hole) whilst shooting towards the small light sources in order to create Bokeh. The further your main subject is away from the background, the more bokeh you will create.

Give it a try and feel free to post some results on my Facebook Page, I would be delighted to have a look :D

I hope that each and every one of you had an amazing time over the Holiday Period. All the best for this year!