Christmas, The Most Bokehlicious Time of the Year

Taken with an 85mm Nikor lens, shot at 1.8, 1/200th, ISO: 400. Lit by single off-ceiling bounce flash.
Lights hang, twinkling from the tree, shiny ornaments dangle from branches and children’s eyes sparkle with wonder.
 
Got your camera out yet?
 
There’s a certain shot most all photographers, young and old attempt this time of year. Bokeh. Why you ask? It’s the perfect time of year for it.
 
But how you get the bokeh in your images? Glad you asked.
 
Below, we’ll give you the know-how you need to amaze your family and friends with great pictures this Christmas.
 
1.)      Lens choice is everything
Use a lens, preferably 50mm or longer with a fast or wide aperture/f-stop. The cheap kit lens that came with your camera simply won’t cut it. If using a zoom lens, zoom it out to the longest focal length it’s capable of. I, personally use an 85mm 1.8 prime lens for most of my portraits where I want bokeh to be pronounced.
Taken with an 85mm Nikor lens, shot at 1.8, 1/200th, ISO: 400. Lit by single off-ceiling bounce flash.
Taken with an 85mm Nikor lens, shot at 1.8, 1/200th, ISO: 400. Lit by single off-ceiling bounce flash.

 

2.)      Aperture is Key
Set your camera’s aperture/f-stop to its lowest setting. Some lens allow you to go as low as 1.2 or 1.4.  This is great. The strongest bokeh comes from lower apertures. But keep in mind, a lower aperture means a lower depth of field. So, the slightest movement in yourself or subject could cause focusing problems.
 
3.)      Distance is Important
Position yourself close to your subject and position your subject as far away from the background as possible. If using a Christmas Tree as your background, try to make sure your subject is at least 10-15 feet in front of the tree.
 
Now, you’re all set to capture some great bokeh in your images. Simply adjust flash (if you’re using one), shutter speed and ISO, and you’re good to go. Experiment with stationary objects in front of the tree before moving to live subjects. This way, you’ll have an idea of what you’re going for.
 
Practice, Practice, Practice.
 
Merry Christmas,
 
Justin Waybright
Owner, Waybright Photography