Thursday, August 16, 2018

Starry Nights and Bokeh Shapes

The other day I found myself looking for an interesting setting for a newborn photo.  Based on this post that details how to construct custom bokeh shapes with a DSLR, I decided to create a “starry night” background.
  1. Create a board with points of light.
    1. Get a large piece of black cardboard.  I got mine for a few bucks at Hobby Lobby.
    2. Punch holes of varying sizes in the cardboard.  I used a hammer and punch, but you could use scissors or anything else that would create a hole.  Vary the sizes a little to make it interesting.
      Cardboard with holes punched
    3. Next, we need a light source to shine through the holes and appear as stars.  I used a lamp and two different flashlights behind the cardboard.  Several light sources helped vary the intensity and color of light passing through the holes
  2. Create the shapes.  Check out this post for details on creating your own, or buy an already made set.
  3. Star shape with a quick tape job
    • I created the exact size of circle and shape I wanted on the computer and printed it directly to the construction paper.  I’m guessing that could jam your printer, so please try at your own risk!  Paint, PowerPoint, Sketchup, AutoCAD, Word or many other applications would do the trick.
    • Manually focusing (unfocusing in this case) first without the construction paper, then adding the bokeh filter afterwards worked for my photo.  Using a tripod would help with manual focus too.
    • Set your camera to aperture-priority and use the highest aperture setting to start.  Also, try different distances from the board.
    • A quick test shows that the effect will work, but all the stars having exactly the same shape didn’t look as good as I thought.  Therefore, I decided to skip the bokeh shapes on this one.    
      Bokeh shapes seem to work
  4. The baby is on a white blanket over a soft, padded surface.  The white blanket also gives the unintended effect of looking like a cloud.  The end result is below.  Keep in mind that I’m not a paid professional, only an amateur.  Also, be sure that the baby doesn’t roll off and is properly supported! 
    Baby dreaming
Have any photography tips you’d like to share?  Let me know in the comments.

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