Photography Project: Creating Abstracts Using Bokeh


Its been awhile since I blogged about my Visual Toolkit project.  I’ve been keeping up (just barely), but haven’t had anything interesting to share.  This week’s project was all about bokeh – purposely defocusing your lens to create abstracts.  My first go at it was using what I thought should have been an obvious choice, Christmas lights (I should know better than to think a project is a “slam dunk” – the seemingly simple ones are always a lot harder).  

After ending up with big white blobs of mess, I decided to forfeit a beautiful sunset over downtown L.A., and try again using city lights with the pink sky above.  I tried to create a series, images that had a common theme.  In this series there are three lights that typically standout – and then I had to throw in a fourth because it was my favorite.

1312_PSA_Sunset_060 1312_PSA_Sunset_055 1312_PSA_Sunset_048

Here are some tips if you try:

  • Start with your aperture setting on the lowest it will go (mine was 4.0) and then defocus.
  • Increase your aperture setting if you want the circles to have more defined edges.  I personally liked the blurry edges better.
  • Look for color and pattern.

After a couple of false starts, I think I am getting hooked.  I will continue to try this technique on different subjects and see if I can find a “formula” and series that works for me. I’d be curious to find out what you discovered.

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