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Photo Idea: Shoot Through Christmas Lights to Get a Holiday Bokeh Effect on the Cheap



Here’s a simple photo idea that photographer Nick Fancher came up with for the folks over at Digital Photography School. If you wanna add some holiday flair to your portrait sessions this Christmas season on the cheap, try shooting through a $5 set of Christmas lights.

The idea is really quite simple. To get the effect in the photos you see above, all Fancher did was drape some cheap Christmas lights over a C-Stand, and set up two different speedlights for additional lighting.

You can see the setup in the diagram below. Shooting at 1/30th and f/2 using a 100mm f/2 lens, Fancher added a red-gelled flash pointed at the background and a regular speedlight reflecting off an umbrella camera-left:


Both speedlights are firing at pretty low power, and Fancher writes that you’ll also have to decrease the ambient light in the room to get a successful portrait, otherwise the ambient light will overpower the low-watt colored lights.

Once you’re set up, it’s just a matter of trial and error — the adult way of saying “play.”

“Play around with your camera’s placement in relation to the Christmas lights,” writes Fancher. “Take a shot and then move a bit and take another. Play around with size and placement of the bokeh and have fun!”

For more detailed tips on how to properly set up and get this shot, check out Fancher’s full article by following the link below.

How to Create a Unique Bokeh Portrait for Under $10 [Digital Photography School]

Image credits: Photographs and chart by Nick Fancher and used with permission