Holiday Lights Bokeh as Foreground, Background or Subject
‘Tis the season yet, again, this year, and although I’m never in the holiday spirit, especially this Covid-19 year, this past weekend I did my part in putting up decorations and lights. Then, looking at the lights through my lens, I discovered the many stories that they’re willing to tell.
Here are a few ideas for photographing the holiday lights and, thus, capturing their visual stories?
- experience with various lenses – prime, macro, zoom, telephoto (and zoom in/out while dragging the shutter/long(er) exposure)
- use compositional elements or the lights as compositional elements (framing, for ex.)
- use selective focus – focus on the lights or not; in other words, use the lights as the subject of your image or as foreground or background bokeh
Brief Note: “Bokeh” comes from the Japanese word for “blur” and determines the appearance of the out-of-focus, blurry, parts of an image. Prime lenses, for instance, offer a good-quality bokeh–that’s why Sigma 105mm ART f1/4 is called “the Bokehmaster.”
As mentioned above, Bokeh can be noticed in the background or the foreground of an image; but it can also be, itself, the subject of an image.
Here are a few example of using holiday lights as foreground, background bokeh, as well as image subject:
Foreground holiday lights bokeh
Note: in this particular image, the foreground lights create a half-frame for the subject of this image, the car (represented by its headlights); that said, because the foreground lights are pretty bright and colorful, they could also be considered the subject; it ALL depends on the visual story told in the image
Background holiday lights bokeh: Same image as above, only focusing on the foreground
Bokeh as subject: Zoom in on the foreground bokeh, capture it as the image subject
Deco lights bokeh as compositional elements: Include holiday lights bokeh as compositional elements when capturing the subject; align the lights to frame the subject or as leading lines; look for shapes created by the holiday lights bokeh
Takeaway: This holiday season look at the lights through different lenses (prime lenses are some of the best), including through your smartphone lenses; you’ll discover a different, sometimes fascinating world that might surprise you!
Have fun preparing for this particular holiday season and stay safe.
As always, thanks for stopping by!