Nikon home projects part 10: Create beautiful bokeh bubbles

Is the weather too bad for shooting outside? Are you looking for new photographic ideas that you can try at home with your Nikon D-SLR? Then why not follow our ten-part series of Nikon home projects?

In part 10, we turn out of focus lights into beautiful bokeh ‘bubbles’. It looks like a really sophisticated effect, but it’s so easy to achieve!

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Bokeh is a Japanese word used by photographers to describe the out-of-focus areas in the background. These blurred bits can be controlled to such an extent that the out-of-focus parts of an image can be just as important as the main point of focus, adding to the overall impact of your subject. So, it’s worth checking to see what the ‘bokeh’ of your photos is like.

Different lenses and aperture blade combinations have different characteristics. You’ll need to use a wide aperture (such as f/2.8) to see the effects most clearly. Fast prime lenses, such as the Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 used here, generally give the best results. The idea of this project is take advantage of the beautiful bokeh circles the lens produces when some regular fairy lights are thrown out of focus.

01 Lights…

Small highlights often create nice bokeh, so fairy lights are perfect. Position them far enough away that they will be out of focus at a wide aperture. Position your subject, in this case a glass, close to the camera and focus on it.

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02 …and action

Use aperture-priority mode and select the widest aperture, such as f/2.8. A regular Nikon Speedlight is fine to light the foreground. Tweak the position of the fairy lights until it looks like cool coloured bubbles are floating out of the glass.

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