DIY – Create Your Own Bokeh

Apr 25, 2007

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

DIY – Create Your Own Bokeh

Apr 25, 2007

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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create your own BokehBokeh is an adaptation from a a Japanese word meaning blur. In photography this term is used to describe the quality of the areas in the picture which are not in focus.

When referring to Bokeh, we can distinguish some of it characteristics:

– Is the light/dark gradient smooth or sharp?

– What shape will a small dot of light take what it is in the Bokeh area? (mirror lenses for example, create a bagel like Bokeh)

We can play with those two variants to create a special Bokeh.

You will need :

1. Cut and shape the sheet to make a fake lens hood. The Diameter is made so that it snugly fits on the lens.

bokeh_heart

2. In the middle of the filter the wanted bokeh shape is cut out – in out example a heart is used. I’m not sure how big a hole the shape can be. But you can check it right away by just looking through the viewfinder. On the 50mm lens @ F1.8 a 15mm heart gives a metering value equal to F3.2, so it can probably be a little bigger (you can use a puncher or cut it by hand).

3. Set your camera to its lowest aperture value (completely open).

Here are two shots to demonstrate this technique  – one with a bare lens and the other with the hearted hood. See more shots here and here (I leave it as an exercise to tell which is which :)

heart bokehregular bokeh

Here are the parameters for the example shown above:

  • Lens – Canon 50mm F1.8
  • “Lens hood” Diameter: 70mm (2.75 inch)
  • Hole diameter: 15mm (0.6inch)

Here are two more great examples for this technique from RottieLover (note – there only one “real” heart in each picture):

heart shape Bokeh 01

heart shape Bokeh 02

Do you have a cool bokeh? show off on the comments.

If you like the effect there is also a commercial version available – the Bokeh Masters Kit.

This article was contributed by Karsten Stroemvig (aka Lullaby), see his other great photograph projects, or browse through our readers projects section.

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Some More Cool Stuff:
The Cheapest Ring Light Ever
Removing The Mystery From The Heart Shaped Bokeh Thing
The Ghetto Studio
Painting With Light
The Best 6 Ways To Create Your Own Bokeh

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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32 responses to “DIY – Create Your Own Bokeh”

  1. Lajos Andrejkovics Avatar
    Lajos Andrejkovics

    Tinkering is a nice thing…however buying the master kit for $25 is one heck of a deal! Now waiting for the postman :D

  2. Christopher Avatar
    Christopher

    It helps to have a lens with a wider aperture than the “kit” lens. The wider open your lens is the shallower your depth of field will be (field of focus – let’s say you focus on someone’s face, whatever is in front of or behind that distance will be out of focus and that is the area where the “bokeh” is. Since you have a Canon camera get the 50mm f/1.8 lens as it is a great value for a great lens.

  3. Lago Avatar
    Lago

    Try on the 55mm end, although it is f5.6 it gives better DOF than the 18mm end.

  4. AmericanSumo Avatar
    AmericanSumo

    Here are some instructions on making your own lasercut bokeh filters … even if you don’t own a laser cutter! Enjoy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F35qMEcxU8U

  5. olivia Avatar
    olivia

    amazing!

  6. Vic Ruiz Dionisio Crizaldo Avatar
    Vic Ruiz Dionisio Crizaldo

    COOL! :)

  7. HopeNotHateBNP Avatar
    HopeNotHateBNP

    Interesting topic, might try it and surprise the GF!

  8. gaurav Avatar
    gaurav

    Can you tell me which lens you used to take that dog photo?
    I am not getting that sharp an bokeh with my Canon 50mm 1.8

  9. Zita Gita Avatar
    Zita Gita

    i did this and it gives me more like vignette and not bokeh…

    1. Armin Avatar
      Armin

      you have probably tried this on a non-wide aperture lens.

  10. Peter Bryenton Avatar
    Peter Bryenton

    very pretty example of this simple but effective technique for shaping boukeh effects. This image took me back in time instantly to my student days and optics theory. Putting an aperture in front of the main lens was standard practice in the days of early Victorian brass and mahogany giant cameras. There were little wooden accessory boxes containing sets of metal slides with circular holes cut in them, of various sizes (think knitting needle measuring guage). They were called Waterhouse Stops after their inventor. Some professional photographers still talk about stopping down, opening up two stops, f-stops. It was all about stopping too much light from going down the lens. Out of focus areas from bright light sources almost always take up the shape of the hole. As learners we experimented with crosses, triangles and suchlike. The heart icon was not a mainstream idea in 1973 but it will be very popular nowadays I’m sure. BryPix.com

    1. Peter Bryenton Avatar
      Peter Bryenton

      bokeh (What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
      By any other name would smell as sweet; [as Juliet said].

  11. M Avatar
    M

    At first, the bokeh was not working for me.
    BUT I figured out that the shape you want has to be at least half a centimeter big. I guess it depends on the lens as well. I am using a 18-55mm lens and it works perfectly. It also depends on how far you are away from the light. So, you have to do some experimenting.

    Hope that helps.

  12. Billy M. Avatar
    Billy M.

    I adore that one with the pup. I’ve had this lens for a couple of years and can’t beleive I have never thought to try this. Thanks

  13. Kristina Stankovic Avatar
    Kristina Stankovic

    Can I do this with Samsung WB250F?

  14. Yehuda Avatar
    Yehuda

    Usually, the aperture is inside the lens, and here, we create an aperture outside the lens.
    Isn’t it a problem?

  15. Micael Widell Avatar
    Micael Widell

    This is pretty neat, but I found a way to use any photo/emoji/image to print your own bokeh ball filter on your laser or inkjet printer. You can make much more elaborate shapes, and even use gray tones. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ladFNJ5uO4Y

  16. Abdullah Allamin Avatar
    Abdullah Allamin

    I am always loved watching photography. It feels me happy. Thanks for sharing those smart tips. I also got some knowledge on bokey by reading your blog.

  17. Clipart Avatar
    Clipart

    BTW, I’m not trying to promote flaming or discussion. After all, it’s not important how it’s called, what matters is how it looks

    1. Clipart Love Avatar
      Clipart Love

      Interesting topic, might try it and surprise the GF!

  18. Noah olive Avatar
    Noah olive

    I tried this effect and its simply superb i loved doing this and recently i worked Lirisha image editing agency their work is amazing if you would like to edit any of your pictures in future please try them you will surely love it !!!!

  19. Frederick Edwards Avatar
    Frederick Edwards

    I love photography. It makes me happy. Thanks for sharing those smart tips. Your article is very informative. Please post more tutorial like this.

  20. Photo retouch house Avatar
    Photo retouch house

    i have tried this one before. amazing idea indeed

  21. Asif Iftekhar Avatar
    Asif Iftekhar

    It is very interesting and I am always searching for an educative tutorial like this. This is really pretty cool place I like it because it has some tutorials I really like. I want more on this blog soon.

  22. Martin Brook Avatar
    Martin Brook

    I am enjoyed the topic really amazing.

  23. Michael Jon Avatar
    Michael Jon

    Thanks for the great technique! Was trying to create bokeh with Nikon d60. May be need some more experiment.

  24. Priya Sharma Avatar
    Priya Sharma

    Great Post, Thanks for Sharing this useful Information

  25. Rehenna usma Avatar
    Rehenna usma

    Its Helpful for me. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Rehenna usma Avatar
    Rehenna usma

    Thanks for sharing, i already create one for my clipping path wise photo shoot studio.

  27. CPR Graphics Firm Avatar
    CPR Graphics Firm

    Thanks for sharing this creating bokeh tutorial! It is very interesting and I am always searching for an educative photography tutorial like this. This is really pretty cool place I like it because it has some tutorials I really like. I want more on this blog soon.

  28. Clipping Service House Avatar
    Clipping Service House

    Thanks for sharing this simple to understand tutorial. I’m a beginner in photography field, guides like this help me a lot. Thanks!