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Aperture Mask: The Many Faces of Bokeh

One of our regular readers, Lee Hancock, emailed me this week to show me a technique (Aperture Mask) that he’d been playing with. I asked if he’d like to write up a quick tip on the topic here on the blog – below is what he’s kindly submitted.


First and foremost I’d like to clarify that I’m fairly new to photography, at least anything beyond your typical point and shoot. Aside from DPS most of my knowledge comes from what I’ve seen posted on Flickr. I’ve found solace in displaying my progress and receiving critiques of various new techniques I’ve picked up along the way.


The other day I came across pictures with a very unusually shaped bokeh. Hearts, stars, crosses, even mushrooms.

After a little searching I found the effect was achieved by using what’s called an aperture mask.

It’s literally nothing more than a piece of cardstock with a shape cut out of it. Placed on the end of a lens with a fairly large aperture you get a wonderful effect.

There are numerous write-ups on the elements at play here so I don’t want to take any attention away from them by simply rewriting their work. I did however want to bring this technique to the attention of the DPS readers and see what kinds of interesting shots we can come up with.

You can see two of my attempts at this Aperture Mask technique above and below.


Learn more about Aperture Mask at Create Your Own Bokeh and The Aperture Mask Project.

See more of Lee’s work on Flickr.

We’d love to see some of your Aperture Mask shots in the forum.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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