Picture This: Heart Shaped Bokeh


Whew!  Anyone else trying to battle your way through a Friday afternoon?  I am really feeling it this week.  I thought pulling out the Christmas lights and setting up for this post was going to send me over the edge, but I made it.  And I’m glad, because I think this is a cool photo trick and one you should have up your sleeve.  (I’m convinced everyone should take a picture of their Christmas tree this way each year — but it’s also fun with city lights, candles, or just because.)

For a long time, I would see those pictures with the little heart-shaped lights and think that there was some fancy equipment (or a strand of actual heart-shaped lights) involved.  However, all you need is a camera and some construction paper.  This trend has become so popular that there are a ton of tutorials out there on how to do this.  However, I’d never actually done it until this morning — and I figure there are at least some other people out there like me.  So if you’re one of those people, here’s the scoop.

Remember when we talked about bokeh? (Just a refresher: for bokeh shots, switch to aperture mode with the lowest possible aperture setting, lens fully zoomed in.)

Well, we’re going to do that but we’re going to make a little cover for our lens with a small shape cut out of it.  You don’t have to make this fancy — in fact, I think you can do this just holding up a piece of paper to your lens (as long as no light is getting through).  However, I saw this nice tutorial and thought I should make my construction paper cover look nice too.

The Set-Up


The green part is just construction paper and entirely too much scotch tape fitted around the lens.  (Don’t tell my husband about the tape.)  I cut a small heart and snowflake out of black paper and attached it to the green lens cover.  (If you have fancy hole punches, now’s the time to break them out.  You can do this with any shape– not just hearts.)

The picture set up is simple.  There is a strand of Christmas lights on the desk, and I set up some objects in front about a foot away.  The camera needs to focus on something in the foreground so that the lights become blurry bokeh circles.  Your picture won’t turn out if you are focusing on the lights themselves.


Can you do this with a point-and-shoot? I’ve read that it is possible.  However, the shape that you cut out has to be teeny-tiny and I think you really have to practice how far away everything should be.  I tried several times without any luck — so I think you have to be patient.

I’m consulting with my tech help (husband) this weekend – so I’ll be back next week with a few more photography posts including those lens recommendations I promised.  Then we’ll be back to our usual faire.

Hope you have a great weekend!  And if you try this technique, let me know.  I’d love to see your photos.

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2 Responses

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  1. OH MY GOSH!!! That has got to be one of the coolest techniques I’ve EVER seen! I definitely will have to try that! Thanks!

  2. FAtma said

    how come your covering all the lens but a little space for the lights and you are focusing on the subject infront ??

    thats the part that i dont get ?? :(