One of my favourite parts about the holidays is taking pictures of the sparkly decorations on the tree. I thought I would share some tips on how to take great ornament photos with beautiful bokeh, those lovely blurred circle light points in the background.
Bokeh is determined by the focal length of your camera, the distance from your camera to the subject, the distance from your subject to the background, and your aperture.
Technically, the best bokeh is achieved with a long lens (85mm and up) with a wide aperture (under f/3.0) with a short focal distance from the subject and long focal distance from the subject and background where the light points are.
For the Mickey Mouse shot, I mounted my camera on a tripod, so it was easier to focus and not get camera shake or noise from using a high ISO. I placed my little tree about 2 feet in front of a window. When it was dark the lights reflected against the window giving me huge bokeh lights. I placed the Mickey Ears on the side of the tree near the back so that I had about a third of the tree in the frame and the rest was black with the reflected bokeh circles.
I actually lit Mickey a bit by pointing the led lights on the tree towards him. This is obviously a lot easier on a fake tree than a real tree :P I used a 100mm macro lens so I could get up really close Mickey and set my aperture to f/2.8 to get enormous bokeh lights. I exposed for Mickey, while making sure I didn’t blow out the led lights on the tree too much.
Here is an example of the same ornament set up with different lenses set at their widest aperture. As you can see the longer the lens creates larger bokeh. But each set up creates a neat effect. If you are shooting with a wider angled lens, I suggest clumping more lights together for more wow!
This makes a fun photography project for a chilly winter day that your whole family can enjoy. So gather up all the shutterbugs in your house and snap your favourite decorations. Remember to share your favourites when you are done!