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Photography tips: How to take Christmas Bokeh shots

*The term bokeh comes from the Japense word boke, which means “blur” or “haze” -wikipedia

ISO 1000 SS 1/250 f 1.8

I love to see holiday photography with a little bokeh in the background.  The lights all a-blur and sparkling up the image.  Here are a few tips for capturing that beauty, but first you must Say NO to Auto, my friends.

1. Wide aperture (low number)–I shot on 1.8 with my 85mm lens
2. Place a subject in front of the lights…focus in on that subject while throwing the background out of focus
3.  The further away that object is from the lights, the better bokeh you will get.  Bigger and rounder.

Here are some shots I took…(all with my 85mm lens)

My son is about 10 feet away from the tree, facing the window in the daylight.
ISO 1000 SS 1/250 f 1.8


 ISO 1000 SS 1/400 f 1.8
Then I went to my colorful lights for a night shot.  A tripod is also helpful when having a low shoutter speed (I didn’t pull it out for this).
ISO 1250 ss 1/100 f1.8
Here it is during the day time.  The daylight coming through drowns out the colorful lights a bit.
ISO 1250 ss1/400 f1.8
  Get creative with your holiday shots, during the day is easier because you have some natural light from the windows, but this is a fun way to get artistic images at Christmas time.

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  1. Awesome! I have yet to try this out — I want to also do the shapes so that your lights will all be whatever shape (heart, star etc) — Have you done that one yet?

  2. those colored lights look so pretty.
    I love blurred light shots.

  3. Who doesn’t love sparkly lights? :) Amy – I posted by custom shaped bokeh here

  4. This is so helpful! I am going to give it try soon! Thanks Kristen.

    Ps–you totally should post more helpful tips like this, they are so awesome!

  5. I love these pictures, I am going to have to try it out for sure!

  6. You do such a great job of explaining things. I’m excited to see you are coming to Utah in June!

  7. You inspired me to fiddle around with this yesterday. So much fun, but I have so much to learn. Here’s my best shot:

  8. You read my mind!! I’ve been trying and failing for a week now to get some good bokeh from the christmas tree. I don’t think I’ve been focusing on something far enough away. Thanks for being so willing to share your skills! Your Christmas outfits were all super cute and looked so good on you!

  9. looks so lovely! right now the lowest f-stop my lens has is 3…can i still get a similar effect?

  10. oh cute! Will have to try this! I have your say know to auto and its helped me alot :o)


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