How to: Create your own bokeh shapes

Last week I launched a new twitter hashtag project as my Chinese New Year resolution – a photography tip every Friday at #fridayphototip.

Today I want to demonstrate something that’s a little harder to explain within 140 characters: how to make a bokeh adapter for any SLR lens! In this case, I’ve created heart-shaped bokeh in a promotional photo for Valentine’s Day, but you can definitely apply this to any simple shape… stars, numbers, flowers… you name it! This was so easy to make; I think it took me just 10 minutes!

Bokeh (pronounced baw-kuh) is the blurred, out-of-focus area of an image. Normally it’s shaped by the aperture of the lens, so you’d usually see a polygonal shape. Here we’re creating our own aperture shape by attaching a black card with a cut-out hole to the front of our lens.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Black card-stock paper (I used paper that was black inside, orange outside)
  • Scissors or x-acto knife
  • Rubber band

First I cut out a circle shape that’s the same diameter as the end of my 50mm f/2.5 macro lens with 4 tabs sticking out to fasten with the rubber band.

I’ve made mine adaptable so you can just change out shapes. Make sure you have a hole on the main piece that’s bigger than your bokeh shape-shifter. Score 2 sides that allow your interchangeable shape to snap in and out.

Try this and let me know how it works out for you!

See also