Christmas Bokeh

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The Christmas season is a delight to photographers for many reasons, one of which is the dreamy bokeh you can create with the lights used to decorate inside and out.

Darcy at My Three Boybarians is holding her Holiday Bokeh party again this year, including prizes from some amazing vendors (including me – hehe), so if you have captured a beautiful bokeh shot this holiday season, head over there and link up. No judging will take place, winners are drawn via, so don’t be shy about sharing your bokeh images!

For those newer to photography, bokeh is the little globe of light you get when using a wide aperture and focusing on something fairly close to you or your camera, with lights further in the background. How close/far you are from the subject will affect the size of the globes of light.

Editing to add that I took these pictures while at a friend’s house on Thursday. My tree has white lights and I thought I would prefer a colorful tree for taking the bokeh pictures for this tutorial. And, lest you think I don’t know it, I do realize the third picture of the Santa ornament is “soft.” 😉

In the image below, I am using an aperture of f4 on my 60mm f2.8 macro lens. I focused on the Santa and the lights on the tree created the bokeh.

I moved a little closer and captured the next shot; notice that the bokeh (little globes of light) are a little bigger.

Again I inch a little closer to the Santa and snap another shot.

Notice that the bokeh is significantly bigger than when I first started out. That is because the lens is now much closer to the subject and the shallow depth of field allows for much more out-of-focus background, making the points of light show up as large circles of light.

If you want to get a picture of all bokeh, find a source with lots of little lights (like a Christmas tree, or city lights). Below is my subject, shot at f4, but focus is straight at the tree.

To create the all-bokeh-shot, I focused on the Santa, which is near me, then moved so that only the tree-light-bokeh filled the shot

Want to learn more about bokeh? Darcy has a helpful tutorial, as does Laura at Pretty Presets.
About Amanda

I am passionate about helping others learn how to use their DSLR cameras and editing programs. More information about me can be found at my About page, or by visiting my personal blog.


  1. Love this! Your colors look great too!

  2. Nice article! Good tips. Thanks and Merry Christmas.

  3. Thanks Amanda for this post. I need to do this with my tree.

  4. I was just playing with this last night! So much fun to play around with!

  5. SO beautiful!

  6. Your photos show as a “?” and when I click it goes to a page that says the link has been broken. I am using Safari on a Mac. Does that make a difference?

  7. I LOVE that last photo, with just the lights – so pretty!!


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