Bokeh Inserts For Your DSLR Camera

Since I get inspired to do this every couple of years, so I wanted to show a cheap, fast, and easy way to accomplish a cool bokeh effect. Note: this assumes you consider a $2500 laser and 10 cents worth of material cheap.

Here are the filters:

Thrilling, right? This is what they do.

Hearts (top right):

Clover - Clubs (bottom right):

Cats (bottom left):

You might have noted that I missed weeding a bit of the cat’s tail. It shows in the photo above. Oops.

Multiple hearts (top left):

How to make your own:

Lenses generally come marked with the filter size on the lens. On my “nifty 50” it looks like this:
The dimension is in mm.

In Adobe Illustrator:

  • I created a circle 52mm in diameter.
  • I then added a couple of rectangles to make tabs. The size is unimportant, but mine were sized to give me roughly 1/4 inch tabs. I made 4 tabs because I’m lazy. You can have as many or as few tabs as you desire.
  • Then I “united” the shapes. This gave me the filter sized to my lens with tabs included to aid in removal.
  • Finally, add any shape you’d like. Feel free to experiment. Note the filter with multiple hearts.
  • Cut time was only 25 seconds for 2 filters.

I made the filter outlines a different color than the shapes I was cutting out so that I could control the cutting order in the GFUI. That is totally your choice. I’ve given up on predicting the motion planning that happens during “processing” before the button glows ready.

The material I chose was “play foam” that is available everywhere. You can get roughly 50 sheets for $5.00 so experimenting is cheap and easy. The color of the foam doesn’t matter based on my use over the years. I used to use manila folders to make my filters. I’ve also used construction paper and cardboard. I like the foam the best.

These filters are handy since you can carry them in your pocket and they weigh next to nothing. If they get dirty they clean easily in the sink with a bit of soap and water. If they get lost it will probably take you longer to find your file than it does to cut out a replacement.

This is what the filter looks like fitted to the lens for use.



Remember, this is taking the “out of focus” lights and applying the shape cut into your filter to them as you capture the light in the camera. I used aperture mode set to f/1.8 and manually defocused the lens to capture the images shown. A tripod is handy, and live view on the newer cameras makes this dead simple to see what you’re getting.

If you’ve read this far, here is a file for your efforts: Bokeh Filter (622.5 KB) . The ZIP file has both an AI and SVG file embedded, or just grab the SVG below.
Bokeh Filter 52mm

Have fun!


If you want something fancier, check out this kit instead:


Splendid results man!
Now cut one for the Artemis design - and shoot the launch with it! (or will that work?)


These are wonderful! I love them! I haven’t had my gear out for SO long. I’m just barely learning GF so that’s taking up most of my time right now. Once I “get my sea legs” with the GF, I’ll need to start pulling things together and do things like this!


I’m not at all familiar with the bokeh effect, but defocusing can do so much in a composition. Here is a star trail that has been incrementally defocused, it really accentuates the color temperature of the stars. The technique also betrays which stars are the closest!


Nice write-up and great share Starman. :sunglasses:


It works on defocussed light, so I guess technically I could use it that way, but not what I’d really like photo-wise :slight_smile:


so, apparently with the words I need to reverse the filter… interesting :slight_smile:

It sounds like you’ve got your hands full. You’ll enjoy some of the things that you can do with the laser to augment your photography when you get back to it :slight_smile:

Cool. Now I’ll have to got out back and… sigh.


I turned the filter around. it’s still “interesting” :smiley:


(You could also have flipped the first image… :smiley: )

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Totally in this case, but you’re generally not going to have the lights as the actual focus of the photo. I don’t mind sharing my mistakes so others can learn.

I relearn this every time since it’s not a “trick” that I use all that often.


Aha! This is what the trees did during the total eclipse a couple of years ago. I happened to look down while everyone else was looking up, and there were little eclipses scattered all over the ground where the light was filtering through the trees. :blush:


That is typically more of a pinhole camera effect, where the spaces between the leaves of the trees are acting as small apertures. From wikipedia:

A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens but with a tiny aperture, a pinhole camera – effectively a light-proof box with a small hole in one side. Light from a scene passes through the aperture and projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box, which is known as the camera obscura effect.

What I’m doing with this is influencing the shape of the bokeh. Similar but different :slight_smile:


I hadn’t seen that one, I had presumed this was the idea…

In which case I imagined just her profile without the circle. Still wouldn’t be as clean as a compact image though huh?
I love this artwork. Her assured posture. Confident - more than capable. :sunglasses:

@geek2nurse - I know! I caught this in Nashville last eclipse…


Hot off the heels of NASA’s first all-female spacewalk, the agency released a powerful feminist logo for its Artemis moon mission

Oh. I’d forgotten they created that one. I like the logo but we’d have to modify it slightly to hold together :slight_smile: The logo I used was the original program logo.

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I got to see that, too. Pretty phenomenal…as was the entire experience.


that’s cool


This is going to be fun to play with. Thanks!

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Thank you for sharing

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Thanks for this @hansepe I’ve not picked up my camera for about two years and when I saw someone do this a few months ago, it got the fire burning again. Maybe now I’ll actually start going out with my camera again, that with the file you’ve given me no excuse.


i know what you mean. Other than launch days I haven’t used my cameras as much as I should. I really do hate to miss the opportunity to play with the Christmas lights every year though, and with the laser and a design program it is literally only minutes of effort to be shooting a new bokeh filter :slight_smile:

I’ll have to go try a few new things with these too.


That does look like fun. Thanks!

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