Make a Bokeh Filter for Your Camera

Here’s an easy way to hack a camera that I’ve been messing around with lately. The bokeh filter is basically one step above putting vaseline on your lens, but it's still fun and with the right situation, like Christmas lights, can be kind of cool. 

“Bokeh” refers to the blurry out-out-focus lights in an image. These blurry lights appear as round shapes because the lens of the camera is round, but if you change that, the lights will take on new shapes - stars, triangles…emoji. Really, whatever you want. I went for the A-OK emoji and the Hand & Eye logo because…my brand. 

So here's an easy DIY bokeh filter that will take you a few minutes to make. 

It’s probably best to use black construction paper, but I didn’t have any so I used manilla envelopes. They worked ok, but they did let some manilla-tinted light leak through. Wrap a band of paper around the lens you're doing to use, then trace that circle onto another piece of paper. I chose my 50mm lens because it's the fastest one I have.  

Add tape flaps onto the piece that will cover the lens to make it easier to attach to the band, then draw out your bokeh aperature and cut it out with an exacto knife. I traced the emoji from my computuer. If you have a printer, obviously use that. 

Tape it all together. I wasn't too worried about light leaks, as I'd be shooting at night anyway. I tried a couple different sizes for the A-OK emoji print and ended up liking the bigger size better, especially in lower light conditions. 

The bokeh filter works best when you have a subject in the foreground and lights that blur in the background. You can also get some nice effects with colored Christmas lights. 

Also, you'll want to be on manual focus mode. It will take a little while to compose a shot, as you have to get the general bokeh effect you like, then rotate the DIY filter right side up without turning the focus ring too. It's not that tricky, but one more step to composing the image.