Thursday, December 8, 2011

Custom Shaped Bokeh

**Update** Thanks for the features Nikki (Thrifty Decorating), Jaymi (Live, Love, Travel) and Kate (Centsational Girl)!
All you need is black cardstock, scissors (or Xacto knife or craft punch) and a little trial and error J

A few weeks ago, two girl friends and I got together to photograph baby Avery. Liam and Brendan now have a baby sister! And mom can now get her pink and girly fix J Please please read about B’s story, who at just over a year old was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare, life-threatening pediatric eye cancer. He underwent 6 rounds of systemic chemotherapy. Learn more here and please spread awareness. 

For baby Avery’s birth announcement, Danielle (who makes amazing cookies, cake pops and more. Seen here, here, here and here) wanted to recreate an image by Michele (from Pinkle Toes Photography). I can’t find the exact image. But don’t worry, you’ll love all of Michele’s images.  I am now blog stalking her. Appropriately so, since that’s the name of her blog. And is not to be confused with the other very talented photographer named Michele who I also blog stalk. J  

Back to Avery's photo shoot....here's what we used:
² 2 strings of white lights (with white cords) ² 1 ladder ²  2 chairs ² 1 shower curtain rod ²  1 white sheet ²  
² fuzzy fabric ² 1 big ottoman ² 1 movable bar ² lots of big windows for natural light ²
² black cardstock ² small craft punches ² Xacto knife ²
² 3 crazy photogs ² 2 boys ² 1 peaceful baby ²
Pull back shots are always so helpful to see how it really went down...
And here’s what we came up with…
*sigh* Who doesn’t love sparkly lights? And these pretty little faces with gorgeous blue eyes!

Mmk back to the title of this post – custom shaped bokeh (blurry background)….I saw this tutorial last year, but my Christmas tree came down before I could try it. So this year was a must! It was tricky, but worth it! Here’s what we noticed through a lot of trial and error:

² Play around with the size of your shape. If it’s too small, your camera might have a hard time focusing. If it's too big, the shaped bokeh might not appear. The second time around I didn't even make a "hood". I just cut a piece of cardstock bigger than my lens. Cut a heart out and held the piece of cardstock flat over my lens with one hand and shot with the other.
² Since my shape (the heart) isn’t the same all around (like a star), my heart would be sideways when I switched compositions from horizontal to vertical. I had to keep switching my heart shaped “hood” to avoid sideways hearts.
 ² The more underexposed, the crisper the shapes are. These are SOOC, no editing...
² Shoot wide open (the widest aperature your lens can go i.e. f/1.8) to get the true shape. 
² Play around with varying the distance of your subject from the lights and the distance of your subject from you. It will change the size of your bokeh. Don't focus on the lights, otherwise they'll be in focus and not bokeh, duh!
² Sometimes we’d get a vignette or distorted fisheye effect, and weren’t sure why. If you have any insight, do tell! 
² Photographing three children is very difficult, ha! The boys needed some bribing...

Go try it! It's fun and you'll have magical holiday pictures. J

Linking up here:
holiday bokeh party 2011 my3boybarians.comHome Stories A2Z

As seen on:
Live, Love, TRAVEL

10 comments:

Gretchen said...

Awesome! I wanna try! Great shots Mindy. :-)

Sarah said...

Thanks for posting this. Great tips! I've been wanting to try this out so bad! I'm hoping to find the time to try this weekend.

Jaymi said...

wow beautiful shots and great tutorial!!!

Nicole@Thrifty Decorating said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! Can I feature it over the weekend????

Jenny said...

I love the hearts! That's good to know about the size of the template. I tried to make one and my camera wouldn't focus. I thought it was just me doing it wrong. Now I know to try a different size shape.

What a beautiful family. Poor baby having to have cancer treatment, especially so young. He's just adorable and I'm glad to see he's doing well now.

Christine Trevino said...

LOVE the sparkly lights and that they look like hearts. Great great job!!!

the cheese thief said...

I love it. I like it with the Christmas tree lights. So pretty

Inspire Me Heather said...

Just beautiful - you've done a lovely job! Thanks for showing me how to, I might have to try this bokeh!

Anonymous said...

thats so awesome! i am gonna have to try this!!

Pdh Photography

pescbrico said...

So cool! I have to try this!!! Thanks for sharing! :)