After Before Forum Wk70; Dreaming of Christmas Bokeh

The After Before Forum is a place where photographers of all levels can show how they get the wow in their photography. It is easy and fun to take part, you can check out how here.

I shall start with a public service announcement; this is the last After Before Forum of 2015. Don’t Panic! the forum will be back up and running on the 8th of January 2016 welcoming the new year in with a bang.
If you are still wishing to stretch those editing muscles after Christmas Dinner, you could take part in the One Photo Focus January. This will be the one year anniversary of One Photo Focus.

I had a really cool idea after seeing Lore’s submission to last week’s forum. I am not a person who jumps head over heels at Christmas time, yet I am not a Grinch either. I think I just get over loaded at school teaching Christmas lessons and run out of steam for the really event. Although after seeing Lore’s picture I wanted to create a Christmas image for this week’s forum post. I came up with the idea of creating some custom bokeh. Of course my first thought was, this would be fun in Photoshop and then stopped myself, I should try and do this in camera.

To create custom bokeh in camera is not as hard as it seems. You need a nice piece of black card, a pencil, a craft knife and steady hand. I built my setup in about 5 minutes. First I cut card and wrapped it around the lens before taping it together.
Secondly I traced my tape and then in the middle traced my lens cap, and cut it out. I then created some flaps by cutting lines from the inner circle to the edge. Before taping it to the card around the camera body I cut a square about a square inch hole in the middle of the inner circle. Using the flaps I taped the circular card to the car around the body of my camera.
Lastly I cut a strip of card a bit wider than one inch. In the middle sketched a Christmas tree and cut it out with my craft knife very carefully; making sure I left clean edges. My first attempt i kept in a 2cm squared square. For my camera this was too small as I lost the field of view and it would block out areas of my picture. I went back and cut a larger Christmas tree in about a 3cm squared area.

In camera lego Jester and custom bokeh

Custom Bokeh in camera with the Lego Jester

I set up some Christmas lights in the background and took some test shots. all was working well. Now I had my custom bokeh I needed a subject to interact with it. I chose one of my infamous Lego figures (the jester because of his surprised and awe(ish) look) and began setting up the shot. I tried my macro lens first placing the jester in the foreground but the field of view was too narrow. I switched to my kit lens and added my extension tubes to get a winder field of view. I exposed for the Christmas lights and used my flash with my pringle diffuser to light the Lego figure.
It worked but I was still getting a bit of a weird shadow over my image from the custom bokeh setup.

In the end I took some shots of the bokeh and then some of my Lego figure and decided to merge it all together in Photo shop.


In Photoshop I set the bokeh layers on top of the lego man layer in a group, and set the blending to screen. I then added a hue and saturation layer clipping it to the bokeh group group. I adjusted the hue and saturation layer to colour the bokeh green.


Back in Lightroom I made three main adjustments. First I softened the blacks and brighten the image using the curves panel. I added  split toning to soften the strong colours but increased the saturation of the greens to make sure the didn’t get lost.
I did make some radial adjustments as well to selectively sharpen the face of the lego man and large bokeh while softening the rest of the image.

Dreaming of Christmas Bokeh

I do like the final image, it has a quiet charm to it. Now I have created a custom bokeh rig I am sure I will experiment a bit more with it and try some more inventive compositions. One of things I have noticed though, is that I thought my cuts were neat but you can see on the larger bokeh how scrappy the edges are.

Week 70 Entries For The After Before Friday Forum

Benjamin Rowe ApertureF64

Lore Dombaj Snows Fissures and Fracture



Mary Hone Tales From The Back Road

Amy The World Is A Book

Please check out the links to the other members posts to see how they make their image pop.

If you wish to take part in the forum next week check out the forum guide here.

I would love to here what you think and you can let me know in the comment box below.


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9 thoughts on “After Before Forum Wk70; Dreaming of Christmas Bokeh

    • I think I will get a sharper knife the next time I do this. It is usually the small details like this that drive me mad, yet others never see them until I mention it. I am glad you liked the whole process Lorè.

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