If you use a Lensbaby and have the “Creative Aperture” set then you might find this technique fun, especially during the holidays when there is a plethora of lights all around. The photo above was not manipulated in Photoshop (other than basic color/tone adjustments) – it’s a long exposure photographed with a Lensbaby. Heres’s how to achieve a similar effect:

  • You will need an SLR camera, Lensbaby*, and the Creative Aperture Kit
  • Find a scene that has a lot of lights and requires a long-exposure (several seconds)
  • With your Lensbaby, use a creative aperture, such as the heart or star (or make your own!)
  • Once you have your focusing and proper exposure time set on your image, start your exposure and about half-way to two-thirds through the exposure defocus your lens. You might need to try defocusing at different times to get a good overall look to the image (it does require some trial-and-error).

The end result should give you a normal scene with large bokeh shapes where the lights are from whatever shaped aperture you had in your lens.

*It might be possible to create the same effect by using a non-Lensbaby lens and a DIY bokeh shape. I’ve never tried it before, but theoretically it should work the same way. (If you want to give it a shot with a DIY, please let me know how it turns out!)