shaped bokeh

~This is a special guest post by HubHack member Meredith Minor of @this_chaotic_life ~


It’s everywhere this season and we all love it, right? What about shaped bokeh? What’s that, you say?! Teach me this magic!

So here’s the story: The other day I was checking my facebook feed (as all social-media addicted people do) and came across a photo by one of my classmates in my online photo school group. I stopped scrolling. It was a Christmas tree, but not just any old Christmas tree. It was slightly out of focus with some lovely bokeh shapes from the lights!

So, I promptly did some research and learned that you can create shapes with bokeh using a simple template, and boom I was hooked. I will admit that we haven’t put up our tree, so that evening on my commute home, I stopped everywhere I saw holiday lights to try this technique. I even took some photos in traffic last night (as a passenger of course) and it created something truly magical in the headlights.

Here is what I am talking about:
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This is not something I came up with on my own, so I can’t take credit for the idea, but Amanda so kindly asked me to share a tutorial with you so here it is!


Cardstock paper
Scissors or craft knife OR shaped punches
Rubber band

You and your camera 🙂

I basically created my template by tracing my lens hood and drew 2 triangular-ish tabs and cut the template. Then, I cut out the shape that I wanted in the center, attached the template to my lens with a rubber band and started taking photos. There was some trial and error involved.

I started with construction paper which was red, and some of my photos came out with a red haze when shooting at night. I also tried white cardstock, which created sharper shapes but also created haze in half of the photos. I fixed that in Lightroom, so I didn’t try anything else. I imagine black paper would work too!

As for the camera, I was using my old canon rebel xti with a Sigma 1.4 lens on it. I took all of my photos at night so I turned up the ISO, shot wide open at 1.4.  I tried various shutter speeds, and ended up in Aperture Priority mode BUT I switched to manual focus. I played around with the focus while looking through the viewfinder until I saw the shapes appear and then snapped away.

This is a really fun and easy project, AND some of the weekly bokeh and light themes are closing soon. I would love to see some bokeh shapes featured at the hubs this weekend! I tried hearts, diamonds and stars – but you could do so many things: Christmas trees, snowflakes, Mickey ears…whatever your heart desires. Keep tagging your photos and who knows, you might be the next feature!  Have fun!

meredith minor photography

My name is Meredith and I am doing my first 365 project. Up until today, I was shooting with a 10 year old Canon rebel xti and a 50 mm Sigma 1.4 lens. I just got a Nikon D750 and 35 mm Sigma ART and I am in LOVE. I am so excited to start using it! I have one toddler boy who is my favorite subject and I also have two step-teens that are super chill but don’t like being photographed! I work full time and take photos constantly. I am striving to be better with every passing day. It is hard work, but having these memories for our family is priceless and it keeps me motivated. Instagram has been such a fun forum for inspiration, connections and engagement. Hubhack is crucial for me, because I really can’t search for hashtags with my schedule. So THANK YOU for that! Oh, and I use the name @this_chaotic_life because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe life as a working parent with a toddler! xoxo, {meredith}

Photo cred: Penny Lane Lifestyle Photography @pennylanelifepics

Amanda:  THANK YOU Meredith for this awesome tutorial!  I can’t wait to try it!  Any questions for Meredith on this technique?  Feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll be sure she sees them.