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How to Take Beautiful Bokeh Christmas Images [With 39 Stunning Examples]

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LOVE 10/50

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas… and in our forums I’ve noticed more and more great Christmas images being shared – some of which feature a technique that is always popular at this time of year – Bokeh Christmas lights shots.

Christmas tree lights II

The technique takes a bit of experimenting and practice but is relatively simple to do. You need some Christmas lights and a camera lens with a reasonably ‘fast’ aperture (or a large aperture).

#ds385 - Red Wool Socks

The key is to shoot at the larger end of your available aperture – this throws the background (and foreground) of your shot out of focus and any Christmas lights in the foreground or background will become little balls of light.

Dreaming about bokeh

As you’ll see in most of the images featured in this series – the technique is particularly good if you also have some element in your shot that is in focus. This ‘subject’ might be a person, a pet, a Christmas decoration or something else.


You can make the little balls of light bigger by increasing the distance between your in focus subject and the out of focus lights in the background.

Holiday bokeh

While most of the images in this series have the Christmas lights in the background of the image (behind the subject) it is also possible to create the little bokeh balls of light by putting the lights in the foreground of your image (in front of your subject). You can see this in the image below. The impact is a little different as the bokeh balls will cover part of your subject.

335/365: ¿Que puedo hacer con estas luces que no se haya hecho ya?

Another popular technique is to create different shaped bokeh. You can make stars, hearts or even little snow flakes like the image below.

Joyeux Noël!  Merry Christmas!

To get these different little bokeh shapes is pretty simple. You just need to make a little cutout ‘mask’ for your lens. Rather than go over how to do it here check out this video tutorial that will walk you through it here.

My Cat's Starry Christmas

Love a Good Buzz - 347/365

The other way to change the shape of your bokeh balls is to experiment with different apertures. You’ll find that in most cases the larger your aperture the rounder the ball – but go for a slightly smaller aperture you may find your bokeh becomes more hexagonal (or Heptagonal or Octagonal… the number of sides will depend upon how many blades your lens has).

christmas kiss

The different ways of using this bokeh Christmas lights technique is only limited by your imagination. Here are some more examples to give you ideas. Enjoy!

waiting for the night to fall by Beauty   on 500px.com

When You Wish Upon a Star by Magdalena Ginalska on 500px.com

Waiting for Santa by Zoran Milutinovic on 500px.com

Nastya by ??????? ??????? on 500px.com

A Christmas Bokeh by Federico Ravassard on 500px.com

Letters to Santa

Christmas Ball-keh (Explored!)

bright lights

Day 4 - 25 Days of Christmas 2007

Brighton Clock Tower


Light way


Merry Christmas!

West Side Market

Merry Christmas to all my Flickr friends.

Blurry Christmas....

What to my wondering eyes should appear ...

Have a Very Bokeh Christmas

Warm Fuzzies





How to Take Beautiful Bokeh Christmas Images [With 39 Stunning Examples]

50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0

Merry Christmas

Bokeh Hostage + 65/365

...and to all a good night!

Felices Fiestas!

The magic of Christmas bokeh

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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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