I’ve seen a few pictures where the lights had been transformed into fun shapes, and I became curious to see how you could do that. The following is what I came out with on my first night trying this effect.
These are the results of my experiments:
1. Cutting out the shape is a pain: travel to your local craft store and pick up a few inexpensive punches. You can find them in the scrapbooking section. If the punch can’t reach to the middle of your lens cover you are making, cut it out on a smaller piece of paper and then stick that piece in the middle of the lens cover.
2. If you don’t cut the hole out in the dead center of the lens cover, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.
3. You can have fantastic multiple light shots if you cut out more then one shape in each lens cover, but it can get very messy if the lights are close together. I found two shapes works great for a splashy background, while only one shape is best when I am highlighting, say, a candle.
4. The further away from center your shapes are (if using more then one shape or a particularly large one), the higher likelihood that the shape will be partially cut off in the image.
5. Dark backgrounds and small bright lights work best.
6. A tripod will save you from becoming sore after holding your position and breath repeatedly over the course of taking shots. The shots you see above that I took on the street, I took hand held and had a sore back for a day afterward.
7. Candles tend to flicker and blur the shape, so its better to have a simpler shape for those shots.
8. Use a Rear-sync setting on your flash to capture both a foreground in focus as well as the pretty light shapes in the background.
9. If you are taking a picture of a foreground image as well as the background lights, then its best if there is a significant distance between the two.
10. If there isn’t enough space between the foreground image and the background, cheat. Photograph the subject on a black background and photoshop it over your Bokeh lights.
The origins of my experiments with Bokeh were found on DIY called, Create your own Bokeh. In the comments section of that site, a bit of a discussion ensues on whether or not the heart shaped lights would be considered vignetting or bokeh. A followup is “Removing the mystery from the heart shaped Bokeh thing“ where the author does a good example of describing the correct size of the cut outs to put on your lens. Both of those sites give you a good description on how to do it. For a basic description of what Bokeh is, see Ken Rockwell’s site, “What is Bokeh“.