Day 111 – Transforming Bokeh   5 comments

© mike moruzi | insearchofstyle.wordpress.comIn Australia, there is a clever and very novel photo contest called Canon EOS Photo5. It is the only photo contest that I have ever vigorously pursued. Its novelty comes from its approach to the photographic themes. It’s called Photo5 because once you register for the contest, Canon sends out a box (originally it was a cube, but they downsized in subsequent years) with five objects or ideas in it. Those objects or ideas represent the categories for the contest. In 2007 (the inaugural year), they sent out a piece of chalk, a balloon, a piece of cellophane and a roll of yellow stickers. The final categories was boxes (for the little boxes in which the objects were delivered). The only rule was that the photograph had to somehow include the object.

In 2009, one of the themes was bokeh. ‘Bokeh’ is from the Japanese word ‘boke’ meaning ‘blur’. In photography, it refers to the out-of-focus area of a photograph. It also refers to the specific patterns that occur in out-of-focus highlights that vary between lenses. Those blurred highlights can be transformed very easily to produce some surprising results.

Included in the box in 2009 were four stencils made from black construction paper. Each stencil had the same shape (an 8-pointed star), but each was a slightly different size to accommodate different lens sizes. By holding a stencil against the front of your lens, the blurred highlights in the photos take on the shape of the cutaway in the stencil.

To try it yourself, start with a piece of black construction paper (the thicker the better). Cut the paper down to a circle that has a diameter about five centimeters bigger than your biggest lens face. Draw your shape in the center of the circle and cut it out. Hold the stencil over the front of your lens while taking your shot. If you want to get fancy, you can cut tabs around the perimeter and fold the tabs over the end of your lens. You can use an elastic to hold the stencil on the front of the lens. It never worked for me though. It just kept springing off and was simpler to just hold in place.

If you want to try this, be aware that the effectiveness of this technique varies from lens to lens. I found that it worked very well on my 100mm lens, but didn’t work at all on my 24-105 zoom. Try it on different lenses and see what happens.

The effect is most visible when you have strong points of light in the background, but as you can see in the photo above you can shape more subtle highlights as well.

Processing notes: The only post-processing on this photo was a little increase in the saturation and the addition of the border.

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5 responses to “Day 111 – Transforming Bokeh

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  1. I did´nt get it at first,Mike but now i see it! Now that´s an interesting one! Thanks for the explanation and definition of Bokeh, i actually never knew exactly what it was!

  2. Thanks for the great idea, and awesome pic!

    Kieran Hamilton
  3. Great image and, as usual, great write up! Love the stars.

  4. I had read about this technique in a book but didn’t quite understand it. Your description really helps clarified. Thanks for sharing, and sharing a the great photo with application.

  5. I am SOOOOO going to try this!!! Very cool!!

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