Photo Tutorial: Frosty the Bokeh Snowman

23 December 2009

Frosty the "Bokeh" Snowman

Camera: Nikon D80
Exposure: 0.05 sec (1/20)
Aperture: f/2.0
Focal Length: 35 mm
ISO Speed: 1000
Exposure Bias: 0 EV
Flash: No Flash

How I got this shot

I love my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens. No, it doesn’t zoom–I use my legs for that–but it does give me some great bokeh.

For this shot, I placed the stuffed snowman on the floor. I then placed myself on the floor, so that I was at the same level–actually, looking up at the snowman. I then adjusted my aperture from 1.8 to 2.0, as I’ve read many articles that suggest you get a sharper shot when you step down from your camera’s maximum aperture.

I took a few test shots and made the following adjustments. I increased my ISO to the point that I could get enough light while still hand-holding the camera. You can see that I ended up at an ISO of 1000 and an exposure time of 1/20 second. Any higher ISO and I risked too much noise in the pic. Any slower shutter and I risked not being able to hold my camera still enough to avoid blurring.

Lastly, I positioned the snowman about 6 feet from the Christmas tree. The combined aperture and depth of field gave me that pretty “bokeh” effect on the lights. They were out of focus and hence, you get that flared look.


Not much processing in Apple’s Aperture software. I boosted the vibrancy and contrast a little, but not much else. The only other thing I did was to clone one of the lights and paste it twice on the right of the picture. I did this because I realized that I had a small black area with no lights. To keep the image balanced, I added these lights. That’s about as sophisticated as I get with “photoshop” (although I actually used Aperture’s clone feature).

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