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" The Japanese word Boke derived from the verb "bokase" meaning to smudge or make blurry.It describes the rendition of out-of-focus points of light."- So sayeth the world wide web.

But to many photographers, 'bokeh' signifies a pause from the regularity of photography. In the world of bokeh, not everything needs to be razor sharp. Out of focus, blurred subjects and backgrounds often elevate the indignation of the purist, but to those who love them, "Bokeh"-s are perhaps the sweetest, most intimate frames that can be taken. However, today I won't be talking about bokehs in general. Instead, I'll tell you how the otherday a very bored engineer left with a few LEDs, a 2.35k, a breadboard and lots of time to kill ended up taking a fun "Bokehlicious" photograph. The tale's of this DIY horror won't shock you for sure :) But you, like myself, might find yourself spiraling down the DIY highway towards making your own "Bokeh Motive". Here goes.

Prelude (aka "Geek Talk") :

You remember *the otherday I mentioned before? Well on that significantly other day I was feeling bored beyond reckoning. There were no good movies to watch or anything. The internet was silent and lacking from its usual flurry of sleuth. Suddenly out of desperation, I thought, "Hey you know what, I'm an engineer after all (AHEM) and if I can't go to a place with colorfully lit backgrounds, then I'll bring the lights to me". So started the misadventure to make the "Bokeh-Motive". I had a few LEDs (namely Red, Green and the regular Incandescent ones) lying around. So I hooked 7 of them up in a breadboard in parallel with a 2.35 k just for security and connected them to an AC to DC converter supply cranking up the voltage to 9 volts.


The circuit diagram should be easy to figure out from the picture above. It's as easy as they can get. As an extra, here's a simplified circuit diagram showing how two LED's should be connected in parallel to a circuit (something I had forgotten after my ME 361 course and came to an embarresing realization about that day)

Circuit Diag

NO Lights, Camera, Action:

After setting the rig up, it was time to place the toy train away from the illuminated LEDs by a distance of around 12 inches. Then I got down and dirty on the floor with my camera and took my made-up DIY shots.



Visit the Flickr set to see a few more shots taken that day.

...wait, I've left the most important parts out. Here are a few pointers that if followed will greatly aid you in making your own Bokeh-motive:

1) Use a "Prime" lens if possibly with aperture values below 2.8 to get that smooth bokeh. P&S and regular kit/zoom lenses can also work out when stopped down.

2) Make sure your ISO is as low as possible before taking the shot.

3) To get a perfect focus even in darkness, you might want to follow a few steps. Here's what to do, turn your room's light on first, focus on the subject with your camera, once the focus point is locked switch over to manual focus (so that the point stays locked), now turn the light off, half-press the shutter button to feed the metering data to your camera (without this, you'll end up having a very underexposed photograph as your camera still has the metering data from when the light was on), now recompose without actually moving the camera to the front or to the back (side by side is ok) and shoot.

4) Finally, although I've mentioned that these shots were taken during the day, it was a big white lie :) The whole incident took place in the night when distracting, ambient lights are at their lowest (dOh).

Now have fun setting up a Bokeh-motive of your own. I know this might be an overkill, still no better way to spent a boring evening. Leave your questions/suggestions in the comment section.

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