26 Dec 2012 11 Comments
I love Christmas lights- they’re so pretty! And I also love taking photos with Christmas lights in the background when it creates beautiful bokeh (the circles that form behind the subject).
Here are some tips of how to take photos with gorgeous bokeh using Christmas lights!
1. Use a small aperture- to get really nice bokeh, you need a lens with an aperture (or f stop) that can go down to 1.8 or 2. For these photos I was using my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. The aperture of your lens is how big the opening is to let in light- so when you have a low aperture like 1.8, the opening is really large and lets in a lot of light, and your background gets blurry. Because your aperture is letting in a lot of light, your shutter speed will have to be higher to compensate.
2. Put your subject several feet away from the lights. For these photos I used our Christmas tree and my dog was a good 8ish feet away from the tree. Varying the distance between your subject and the lights will give you different looks- the closer you are to the lights the smaller they will be. If you get really close, they will just look like lights, not circles. The farther away you are, the bigger the circles, but if you get too far away, all the circles will start blurring together.
4. Adjust your ISO- My ISO was at 400 for these photos- that’s in the middle as far as ISO goes. ISO is how sensitive to light your camera is- if your ISO is low (100 or 200) your camera is not as sensitive to light meaning that your aperture and shutter speed have to be lower to let in enough light. Low ISO is good for when you’re shooting in bright light and gives you the highest quality photos. Middle ISO from 400-800 will make your camera more sensitive to light which is good for when you’re shooting in a well-let room inside. ISO in this range will allow your camera to take in more light and won’t take down the quality of your photos too much. High ISO (800+ depending on your camera) will allow you to shoot in low-light situations, but will also produce granier photos. I always try to shoot at as low an ISO as possible so my photos will be of better quality. Your ISO in these photos is going to depend on how dark your environment is- my living room has windows so it was letting in quite a bit of light.
And for those of you who are curious, my settings for these photos were: ISO- 400, Shutter Speed- 1/100, Aperture- f/1.8