Sparkling bokeh

Cap­ture fun light dis­plays us­ing a sparkler and some fairy lights

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO ACTIVE -

In this project, we wanted to cap­ture (and make a fea­ture of) the colour­ful points of light be­hind a sub­ject. To stay sea­son­able as win­ter fes­tiv­i­ties con­tinue, we were go­ing to be light­ing a sparkler, and hold­ing it in front of a set of fairy lights taped up in the back­ground. Although we tried to use mod­ern LED lights, we found that tra­di­tional Christ­mas tree lights work bet­ter, as their bulbs are much big­ger.

Once we’d hung up the lights, we mounted our DSLR onto a tri­pod and used man­ual set­tings to fo­cus on the sparkler. Man­ual mode was the best method for ac­cu­rate ex­po­sure, so that we could un­der­ex­pose the im­age for when the sparkler was lit. A wide aper­ture of f/2.8 was set to cre­ate a shorter depth of field, and the ISO was set to 1,600. The sparkler was a sub­ject that was eas­ily cap­tured by a short fo­cal dis­tance, pro­vided we held our hand fairly close to the cam­era.

The key to get­ting a suc­cess­ful bokeh ef­fect is to use a fast prime lens, with the aper­ture wide open. If you find that you’re not get­ting a strong bokeh ef­fect, in­crease the dis­tance be­tween your sub­ject and the back­ground (by de­creas­ing the dis­tance be­tween the sub­ject and the cam­era).

Light­ing a sparkler in­doors isn’t too dan­ger­ous, but you might want a bucket of wa­ter nearby to ex­tin­guish them at the end of your shot. Make sure you’ve got plenty of space to work in, and that chil­dren and pets are kept well away. Get­ting shots in fo­cus can take some pa­tience, and we used a fast con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing mode to fire off a burst of shots once the sparkler was lit, mov­ing it closer and fur­ther away from the lens.

Lau­ren Scott

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