First off, sorry it’s been 9 months since my last photography tutorial! I will try to post more in 2013! With Christmas fast approaching, I thought I’d post a tutorial on how to achieve christmas tree bokeh (blur/balls of light). Here’s my trusty model, Mr. Snowman who has been joining our family for Christmas for the past 8 years. He always has a smile on his face and never complains that I take too many pictures. And no, the pictures aren’t distorted – we got a tiny tree this year and yes, I know the lights on the tree aren’t placed evenly. I can’t even blame the kids for that. It was all me.
In the trio of images above, I placed Mr. Snowman right in front of the tree. I used my 50mm 1.4 lens with just natural light in the house. You can see that the tree isn’t very blurry and the lights aren’t very noticeable at any of the apertures.
Here I moved Mr. Snowman about 3 feet in front of the tree and took the images with the same 3 settings. You can start to see the tree getting out of focus and the lights look like they’re glowing a bit more.
Finally, I moved my model about 5 feet in front of the tree. At each of the different apertures you can see the balls of light becoming more prominent. Remember, the wider the aperture, the bigger the orb. Now it’s time for you to practice with your slr! Your settings will be different depending on your environment and camera but hope these images showed you what distance and aperture can do for your christmas lights. Grab a model and create some distance between the tree and the model. Choose the widest (smallest) aperture your lens allows and have fun!