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Shaped Bokeh Tutorial

In recent articles we have covered what is bokeh and how best to capture them in our photographs. Now let’s see how we can add a touch of fun to our holiday photos.

While discussing bokeh we mentioned that the number of aperture blades and the shape it creates will be visible in the photographs as the shape of the bokeh will reflect the shape formed by the aperture diaphragm. It is even possible to count the number of blades in the diaphragm. So if the shape of the diaphragm changes the shape of the bokeh why can’t we change those pentagons, hexagons, heptagons and nonagons to a shape that's more to our heart’s liking?

What we are going to do is to cover the lens with black construction paper in the center of which we have cut out the shape we wish our bokeh to be. Now the size of the cut shape will be smaller than the diaphragm opening of the lens and hence the cut shape on the black paper will now act as the diaphragm and the bokeh will be of the shape rather than the shape of the lens diaphragm.

Shaped Bokeh Step By Step Tutorial

1. Cut the black construction paper into a strip large enough to cover the entire front of your lens.

shaped bokeh tutorial
shaped bokeh tutorial

2. Measure the front of the lens

shaped bokeh tutorial
shaped bokeh tutorial

Measure both the outer diameter of the lens and also the diameter of the lens aperture.  

3. Now set your compass to half the value of the outer diameter.

how to make shaped bokeh
how to make shaped bokeh

4. Now draw a circle using the set value (radius) on a piece of black paper.

how to make bokeh shapes
how to make bokeh shapes

5. Once the circle is complete draw 4 handles with a pencil

diy shaped bokeh
diy shaped bokeh

4. Now cut the shape out

Custom bokeh tutorial
Custom bokeh tutorial

6. Now we can cut our desired shape from the center. 

Custom bokeh tutorial
Custom bokeh tutorial

For the purpose of this tutorial I cut out a heart shape using a knife, it would have been a lot easier and neat if you use a shape punch instead. Remember we had measured the lens aperture diameter earlier, you shape should be a tad smaller than that for this trick to work.

7. Attach the shape to the lens and we are ready to go.

diy shaped bokeh
diy shaped bokeh

8. Set camera to Aperture priority mode, set aperture to the lens’s maximum aperture.

9. Find an interesting subject with some light sources in the far background.

10. Focus on the subject in the foreground and shoot. Viola Heart Shaped Bokeh…..

Sorry i cant find my data cable anywhere and the test pic will have to wait for the time being.... 

Meanwhile here are some custom bokeh shots from more talented photographers around the world for your inspiration.

love shaped bokeh
Photo by: Kevin Eddy

bokeh photography
Photo by: Roni Amin

bokeh masters kit
Photo by: J Star

discussing shaped bokeh
Photo by: Pablo Fernández

how to make heart shaped bokeh
Photo by: Maxime Dehaye

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