Jan 10 2011 - Bokeh Filter Fun
For those of you who may not know what Bokeh is, it’s basically the blur in out-of-focus areas of an image, or the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
Typically, a bokeh shot will have something in the foreground that’s in focus and you’ll see the effect in the background. Although, that’s not always the case. I took the following photo of my Christmas tree a few weeks back. As you can see, nothing is in the foreground. It was just the effect of the blur that I wanted to capture. I just turned off the automatic focus and started shooting.
But then I came across a couple sites talking about Bokeh filters. I wasn’t too sure what these were, so I looked into it. And what I found was pretty cool. These filters basically shape the blur in the background. Pretty cool effect, but not too cheap for something that looked easy enough to make on my own.
So I found a DIY website that shows you how to create your own filters…a fairly easy process. I think the hardest part was getting the “filter” to fit just right, making sure my shape was centered, and making sure the shape wasn’t too big. The website shows some kind of sleeve they made to fit over the end of the lens to keep the bokeh filter in place. If you have a UV filter or something similar, you can just as easily place the bokeh filter between your lens and the existing filter to keep it in place. That’s what I did.
These were my initial attempts at filters.
I used a poster board to create these. Construction paper would work, but you can only use black for this project. I don’t know any store that sells packs of black construction paper, so unless you have kids to use up the rest of the colors, you’re better off with a single piece of black poster board and cutting it down to size.
The first filter I created was the triangle. This is when I realized I was making the shape too big. Notice the curves in the photo below. This is the camera’s aperture that you’re seeing.
If you take a closer look at the photo of my homemade filters, you’ll notice the blue tape on the triangle filter. This was my quick-fix to make the shape smaller and correct the issue. Looks like it did the trick. Now I was actually seeing triangles…cool!
From here, I went on to the star filter. Again, the shape was a bit too big, but I never got around to making a smaller star. Still kind of a cool effect. You can see the different areas of the star as you pan left to right in the photo below.
And finally the circles filter. This one was created by accident. I was going to use a hole puncher to create a shape in the middle of the filter, but it was too short to reach the middle. So instead, I thought I’d punch a number of holes around the middle and see what kind of effect it made. I took a few photos of red Christmas lights.
After having all this fun playing with filters, I forgot all about the foreground object that I mentioned early in this post. So I added a reindeer with my triangle and circles filter.
Neat effect! And this is only the beginning. You can pretty much use any shape to do this…crosses, hearts, diamond, arrows, cresent moon, etc…the list goes on and on.
If you decide to experiment, let me know how it turns out or post a link to your results. I’d love to see what you come up with.