Have you heard the term ‘bokeh’? No? It simply refers to that out-of-focus area of your photo where everything blends softly together. It’s a Japanese word that literally means ‘fuzziness’ or ‘dizziness’ and refers to the aesthetic qualities of the area of a photo that isn’t in focus. You’ll already be used to seeing photos that use shallow depth-of-field to produce attractive blurring in the out of focus areas, but what you might not realise is that you can form any bright spots or lights in that area into any shape you choose, using a simple technique. And yes, it’s a little bit cheesy but it is a whole lot of fun.

In the example above, lights positioned behind the book pages have been formed into heart shapes. Hearts and stars are the most commonly used effects, but the sky’s the limit in terms of what you could do. How about musical notes, elephants, snowflakes, fleur de lys, letters, flying birds, diamonds, the eiffel tower? The technique is most effective when you use a sharply focussed foreground object that relates in some way to the bokeh shapes, such as musical notes with a guitar, but it can be fun even if the whole photo is taken up with the blurred bokeh shapes, such as in this…

View or download our full article as a pdf document: Customised Photo Bokeh