STEP BY STEP / Fake your own bokeh backgrounds
1 The background Load up the start file into your computer (or TV or tablet) and make it full-screen. Ensure you have sufficient space in front of the screen to place your object. If you don’t have the file to hand, or just want to experiment, try a web search for something like ‘star pattern’. 2 Place the board We placed a black acrylic board on our laptop keyboard to reflect the background. It also provides a stable, flat surface on which to place your toy animal. Ensure you move the figure a reasonable distance away from the screen to increase the blurriness of the stars. 3 The lens is key The longer your focal length, the more the background will blur due to the perspective compression that occurs in longer lenses, and the wider the aperture, the greater the effect too. We used a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. Pop your Nikon DSLR onto a tripod to keep it rock-steady. 4 Which mode? In Manual mode, use the widest aperture available on your lens to produce a shallow depth of field. Use the lowest possible ISO (100 is ideal); because we’re using a tripod, a longer shutter speed won’t result in any blur from camera shake in the final shot. 5 Get in focus In order to truly emphasize your object and throw the background out of focus, engage autofocus and move the focus point over the closest corner of your object. You might find it easier to do this with a plain white screen, as the AF will then lock on to contrasty edges. 6 Take it further Once you have your scene set up and settings dialled in, try taking a few shots, adjusting the positioning of your figurine. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try using different background images to create jungle-like scenes, as we’ve done here?