Custom Bokeh

Some time ago I saw this project, which shows how you can make your own custom bokeh effect simply by placing a cardboard sleeve over a DSLR’s lens. In the time off I had over the holidays I decided to try this technique myself. This is ridiculously simple to do and produces some pretty cool results.

All you need to create this effect is a lens with a wide enough aperature to create fairly shallow depth of field (the wider the better). I used my Canon 50mm F1.4 lens. For the sleeve I used some cardstock I had laying around, some tape, and a razor blade to cut out the tree shape.

The photos below show the difference between a picture taken with the cardboard sleeve on and off. I used a Christmas tree in the background to create the small points of light necessary for this effect. Due to the relatively low light necessary for this type of photography a tripod may also be necessary, although these photos were taken hand-held.

GIMP HDR Photos

A while back I ran across this Instructable, which details how to make High Dynamic Range photos using the GIMP photo editing program.

The steps are as follows:

  • Open the base image as the Background for the composite image
  • Dark Layer
    • Open the dark stock image
    • Copy & paste it into a new layer in the composite image
    • Rename the layer Dark
    • Desaturate the original dark stock image
    • Adjust the levels of the dark stock image
    • Create a layer mask for the Dark layer
    • Copy the desaturated dark stock image
    • Paste it into the Dark layer’s mask and anchor
  • Light Layer
    • Open the light stock image
    • Copy & paste it into a new layer in the composite image
    • Rename the layer Light
    • Desaturate the original light stock image
    • Invert the colors of the desaturated light stock image
    • Adjust the levels of the light stock image
    • Create a layer mask for the Light layer
    • Copy the desaturated & inverted light stock image
    • Paste it into the Light layer’s mask and anchor
  • Save the finished composite image
Base
Base
Dark
Dark
Light
Light
HDR
HDR

 

Base
Base
Dark
Dark
Light
Light
HDR
HDR

This is a fun technique to play around with. Some photos, if taken properly in the right conditions, can gain a whole new dimension when they get a little HDR boost.