Bokeh Tricks

To make a shot like this you need a room about 20′ long

One of the tricks you can play with Bokeh and depth of field.

To make a shot like this you need a room about 20′ long. Drape strands of Christmas lights over a door or hang them over a dark curtain at the far end. Tape or affix them in a funnel shape. Position the vase, jar, bottle, or other container on a table or TV tray mid-room, lined up with the tip of the light strand funnel shape you created.


Set up your camera on a tripod or a beanbag on a table so that it’s lined up with the vase and lights. Make sure to look over the top of your lens so you get the right perspective – move the vase, lights or table as needed to make it seem that the lights are steaming or spraying out of the vase.

Set your camera to manual, and then set the lowest f-stop combination you can with the lens you have for starting this shot. Zoom the lens to the farthest distance setting you can go with the vase in focus so that your plane of focus is right at the vase, keep adjusting until you get the vase sharply focused and the background lights blurred the right amount for the mood you want. If you create too flat a depth of field then the lights will be too blurry and smeary. You might have to move the camera closer or further away, and to get it right might take up to ten or fifteen minutes – be patient, you will find the spot. Keep the ISO on the camera at 100 or 200, you want a sharp photo of the foreground vase. Once you get the focus set, set a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds to start. Later you will adjust it for your light. Set the camera to timer or use a remote; you want to avoid camera shake.

Turn off all room lights and close all the doors and windows. Snap a picture, review it, and adjust the shutter speed to longer if the vase is too dark, or shorter if the shot is over exposed. The Christmas lights will be warmly out of focus, and the vase or jar will be sharply in focus if you did everything right.

Optional: put a mini mag light inside the vase to create a light coming out of the vase.