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How To Create Bokeh In Photography For The Holidays |

Creating Really Cool Holiday Themed Photos


How great are these photos?  Do these images get you in the mood for the holidays?

I often talk a lot about setting the mood in food photography.  It can be somewhat challenging, especially when it comes to food!  

Well today I am going to show you a pretty cool technique to creating amazing holiday photos.  You can do this with your food photography or with family pictures or anything else you might think up.  

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Lets look at the image above as an example.  I am guest blogging over at Ditch the Wheat, and I really wanted to create a delicious image that screams “Tis THE HOLIDAY SEASON“!!

I did this by using holiday lights and creating some bokeh in the picture.  What do I mean by bokeh?

What is Bokeh in Photography?


One of the simplest ways to create holiday cheer in an image is to create bokeh in photography!  By adding some christmas lights into the background, you can get your audience into the mood pretty quickly!

So what is bokeh?  Bokeh is the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light (source).  In short it is when something is out of focus in a picture.

Lets take a look at this picture below.  I wanted my elf to be in full focus and the background to be out of focus and somewhat blown out.

By placing the elf in front of a tree with color lights, I was able to create this picture. Isn’t this a fun holiday picture.  Lets learn how to do this shall we?

Family Traditions |

Having The Right Lens


To create really great bokeh like the images above, you are going to need a lens similar to this one: 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens

This is a really great lens for your DSLR camera and it is really affordable! What you are looking for is a lens that has a very low f/stop.  Like f/1.8 or f/1.4.  

If you are unfamiliar with f-stops, please read my post here: Learn How To Use Your DSLR Camera With This Easy Photography Tutorial.

Creating Bokeh In Photography For Holidays|

How To Create Bokeh In Photography


So here is what you need to know on creating a very cool holiday picture.  Alright, a little humor in this picture but here is my set up. 😉

  • You need to set a small table in front of a tree with lights about 6-8 feet away.
  • When shooting the image, you want to get very close to the subject…I mean really close.  Your lens might have a hard time focusing, pull back a little until you can get it to focus.
  • Have the background be the christmas lights.  
  • Now set your lens to the lowest aperture possible.  Mine was at a f/1.8.  
  • Focus what you want to be in focus and shoot the picture.  Your background will be out of focus!


How To Create Bokeh In Photography For The Holdiays |

If you want your image to be super blown out like this image below, have the subject (in this case the stuffed dog) further away from the tree before shooting.

Remember, you get really close with your camera to the subject (the stuffed dog) that you are shooting!

Creating Bokeh In Photography For The Holidays |

If you want less dramatic bokeh, simply get closer to the subject and to the background.  (Instead of being 6-8 feet away, move the object right up to the background).

Creating Bokeh In Photography For Holidays|

That’s it!  Pretty easy right?  Now be sure to head over to Ditch the Wheat to check out my amazing recipe, Almond and Coconut Butter Holiday Fudge! It will for sure get you into the holiday spirit! 

Almond & Coconut Butter Fudge2.001

Camera Details


As always, I like to include the details of my pictures.  As usual, I shot all of these pictures on manual mode.  You can learn how to use manual mode in this tutorial: Learn How To Use Manual Mode On Your DSLR Camera With This Easy Photography Tutorial.  I did not use artificial light for any of these images.  I did not use a tripod for any of these photos.    

I should also note that I used a fixed lens (doesn’t zoom in and out) and a lens that has a very low f/stop. 

  • The pictures at the top with the fudge has an ISO of 1600, the aperture was f/1.8 and the shutter speed was 1/80.  
  • The picture of the elf with colored lights has an Iso of 800, the aperture was f/1.8 and the shutter speed was 1/200.
  • The picture with the stuffed dog toy has an ISO of 800, the aperture was f/1.8 and shutter speed was 1/80.
  • The picture of the ornament in the Christmas tree has an ISO of 100, aperture f/1.8 and shutter speed 1/40.
  • The final picture of the fudge has an ISO 800, aperture f/1.8 and shutter speed 1/60.

I edited the pictures slightly by adjusting the exposure a bit, bumping up the saturation in the photos a bit.  If you should have any questions about any of these elements, please feel free to ask in the comment sections below.

More Great Photography Post ~ Photography, Equipment, Props & More 


You can view more great photography post, in our Entire Series of Food Photography, Equipment, Props & More!   Until next week…

Oh and one more thing, check out this awesome tasty food photography book.  It is hands down my favorite photography book!!

 Want To Learn Even More About Food Photography

Tasty Food Photography eBookHere is one of my favorite e-books that really dives into a lot of great stuff. Lindsey over at Pinch of Yum has the most gorgeous photos!  In this e-book, she has tackles technical tips, composition tips, lighting tips, prop and set up tips, editing tips and general workflow tips.  There are instructional videos to easily walk you through learning the whole process!  Wether you are brand new to photography or have experience…this book is for everyone! Learn more here!



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