Manipulating the Aesthetic Blur

  • You’ll need dark colored construction paper, preferably black. Cut a strip of paper with a length that will fit around the lens of your DSLR camera. It’s best to be using a lens with a wide aperture to create bokeh. Wrap the strip of paper around the outside of your lens, forming a cylinder, and hold it together with tape.
  • Next, you need a circle piece of the black paper to form the cap on the paper tube which will fit over your lens. To do this, you can measure the lens of your camera and draw the circles on the paper with a compass set to half the lens width. Or you can get the paper tube you made, place it on the paper and trace around it to get your circle.
  • Cut out the circle and then use a paper punch, to make a custom shape in the middle of the circle. If you don’t have a custom shape paper punch, you can use a Xacto knife to cut out the shape you want. The shape should be between 1/2 and 3/4 inches. It can be anything – a heart, cloud, star, you name it. Make as many circles as you want with different cut out shapes. Some will work better than others. Have fun and experiment.
  • Prepare to place the paper tube and circle over the lens. Putting a strip of tape along one edge of the tube will make it easier for you to remove and change the shape cutouts. You should tape the circle to the tube so that it forms a cap that will fit nicely over your lens.
  • You are ready to shoot now. If you want to make the best bokeh, make sure the focused subject is positioned close camera and the bright background highlights should be at a distance. The background can be any tiny points of light, such as sunlight between leaves or Christmas lights. Set your camera in full manual or aperture and make sure your aperture setting is the lowest it can go.

With your own custom shaped bokeh, you can get awesome and creative images. This useful and simple photo trick is just about manipulating the aesthetic blur to create something magical in your photos.