Last Minute Christmas Bokeh

I love me some Christmas light bokeh!  Here’s a little tutorial for you all!

To achieve the best bokeh you will need a prime lens (lens that doesn’t zoom in and out) and you’ll need to shoot on manual.  I chose to take my pictures at a time of day where I get some natural light, but not a whole lot.  I didn’t want to use flash or have our overhead lights on, but still wanted the Christmas lights to shine bright.

You will need to shoot as wide open as your lens allows (smallest f stop).  I shot these images at F 1.2 and on a fairly low shutter speed.  With wiggly kids you’ll need to take several shots to ensure you get one in focus.

The other key to getting bokeh is that you need to separate your subject from the background.  In the first image Brayden was right next to the tree.  You can see I don’t get much bokeh.

*** All images shot with Canon 5D Mark II, 50 1.2

F 1.2, 1/80, ISO 1000

Please excuse that there are no presents under the tree.  Little Kennedy would just tear them all open if she had the chance.

When I moved him about 4 feet closer to me you start to get a little more bokeh.

And at about 8 feet in front of the tree I really get that bokeh!

Merry Christmas Eve!


  1. Briana says

    Thank you! I was trying to figure out how to get pictures of my kids in from of the tree and they never seemed to turn out! :) This helped a bunch.

  2. Gwen says

    Your comment about the lack of gifts made me laugh. I have a 20 month old son so the bottom of our tree will be pretty bare until after bedtime tonight. My poor daughter doesn’t understand. Thanks for the bokeh tips!

  3. Lamielle says

    Hi Drew, Merry Christmas!

    I have been following you for a while via newsletter and I would like to say thank you for sharing us your knowledge. You are such an inspiring person. Please keep it up and God bless you and your family.

    Lamielle´s last blog post ..Friday Lovin’

  4. Jessica K says

    I can’t thank you enough. You always put great information into simple, easy to understand words. You show the examples, instead of just paragraphs of text! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, and wonderful family moments with all of us.. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

  5. Brandi says

    I always love the lighting in your photos. My house is so dark it’s hard to get nice shots like this.
    Brandi´s last blog post ..Christmas

  6. Simona says

    It also helps to have a super cute kid to model for you!
    Thanks for all the hard work helping out the less knowledgeable.
    It really helps. I agree with Jessica K above, having it broken down into pictures of how to’s really helps bring it all together
    Thanks So Much
    Simona´s last blog post ..Miller Family {Upper Northern Neck VA Family Photographer}

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