Mitzi Ilagan |

It’s the yuletide season again. The lights and songs are lingering around. And for photographers, the holidays is one of the best times to do a creative shoot.

What is a bokeh?
Bokeh (pronounced as BOH-K? or BOH-kay) comes from the Japanese word “boke” meaning blur or haze. It is the effect made when there is an out-of-focus background using fast lens. Photos with bokeh and best used and mostly seen using colorful lights such as in streets or during Christmas.

To do this, you need lights for the background, a subject of your liking and a tripod to let the camera hold still while shooting. Set your camera to manual so that you could adjust the aperture and shutter speed. And then, choose a wide aperture (at least f/2.8, f/1.8 or f/1.4). When using the Aperture Priority mode, the camera will choose the appropriate shutter speed (for the exposure) for your chosen f/stop. The perfect bokeh would depend on your lens and proper settings. If you do not have wide lens, all you have to do is increase the distance of your background to your subject. You could also move your subject closer to the camera. The further the background, the more out-of-focus it would turn out.


The technique used is this: the photographer wrapped Christmas lights (with transparent wires) around himself and his subject.

It would also look better if the bulbs used would have transluscent wires so make the lights look as if it were floating.


The bokeh effect is mostly used in portrait photos. Close-up portraits with bokeh look very well especially if Christmas-themed. Here are samples of the shots with bokeh:


Christmas Photography Ideas Using the Bokeh Effect

But if you would just like the bokeh as the subject itself, manually focus the camera so that the lights are out of focus. Try moving away or further to test if which looks better, depending on the location, brightness, or the size of the lights.
Photographer, editor: Jace Villajuan
Models: Ann Margaret Felipe, Wilmark Tambanillo, Kiel Franciz De Leon
Stylist: Paul Agustin
Location: Tanauan City, City of Lights

Follow my other articles in and