Beautiful, soft, and layered bokeh makes for a magical backdrop. The problem is, unless you are photographing a person in front of a Christmas tree, you may not get the look you want. However you can still create this effect in post-processing, and all it takes is a few bokeh photographs and a good starting image. With the proper setup you can take a simple photograph (left) and transform it into a gorgeous sparkling scene (right):

Tips for a good image (main subject) for applying bokeh:

  • Use a long telephoto lens and a wide aperture (such as ƒ/4, ƒ/2.8, or wider)
  • Blur the background with a simple, plain backdrop (a one-color backdrop is ideal; you also don’t want to be able to make out much detail in the background)
  • Make sure that the main subject is far enough from the backdrop to compress the background and make it blurry

Tips for creating a bokeh background image:

  • Use holiday lights and string them up against a simple backdrop
  • Use a long telephoto lens and a wide aperture (such as ƒ/2.8 or wider)
  • Or, download my Nicolesy Bokeh Overlay pack with 200 photographic bokeh images to use in your own photos

Tutorial — Adding Bokeh using Photoshop:

Download a FREE Bokeh Overlay:

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Bokeh Overlays

Set of 200 High-Resolution Photographic Overlays

Add a magical, realistic, and soft background effect to your images with this set of 200 bokeh images. These are real photographs of bokeh (not created digitally), and work well with portraits, still-life, and any image with a soft and out-of-focus background.

Click here to learn more about this overlay pack.