DIY Filters for Shaped Bokeh

When I bought my prime lens two years ago, it was really because it was going for cheap online.  I didn't really know what to do with it, and the lack of zoom annoyed me to no end!  However, I discovered the magic of bokeh (along with the other perks of the prime) and now that lens is permanently stuck on my camera body.

For this DIY Friday (which hasn't been run very consistently - sorry about that!), rather than a fashion-related project, here's a quick and easy camera-based project for you to try.

(yup, done to death on those trusty camera forums)

How to get those pretty shapes without having to fake it on your iPhone.


What you'll need:
Pencil, scissors, tape, ruler, and black paper (preferably heavier paper)

Shaped bokeh 1

Trace your filter (or use a protractor to make a circle ~1mm smaller in diameter). 

Find the centre of the circle, and trace a smaller circle in which your shape will be cut out of.  To find the size of this smaller circle (which corresponds to the maximum aperture size of the lens you're using):

1. Take the focal length of the lens which you want to use - in my case, this was 50mm
2. Divide the focal length by the smallest aperture value of your lens - f/1.8 for me

In my case, the maximum aperture of my 50mm f/1.8 lens would be ~28mm.  
Therefore my shape would have to be smaller than this.

Shaped bokeh 2Shaped bokeh 3

Cut out your shape, and then cut out the big circle, being sure to leave a small tab.  This will make it easier to remove the piece of paper from your filter.

Shaped bokeh 4

Fit the circle into your filter - it might take a few tweaks to make sure it fits snugly.

Shaped bokeh 5

Reinforce with some tape if you wish, then go shoot something!

Shaped bokeh 9

The result:
(after about an hour of trying to get my dog to sit still enough for a photo)

Shaped bokeh 8Shaped bokeh 7
Shaped bokeh 6

Little stars and hearts!

Too easy, right?

xx T

P.S. If you look through Monday's post with a keen eye, you'll notice that many of the photos have shaped bokeh ;)


  1. That is so amazing!!! Definitely going to give that a go.

  2. Awesome! I've tried to do it with my film camera (I don't have a 50mm for my digital camera, sadly!) so it was reaaaaaally risky. I kind of failed, but I'll definitely try again with your tutorial (as soon as I have a new lens), it looks pretty bloody easy!

  3. Putting it inside a filter is so much better than the ones i've seen which try to make a sort of cap out of paper! This is so clear, thank you! I can't wait to try!

  4. I love the last photo :)

  5. love this post! x
    I've seen similar posts but been too lazy/busy to try them out
    but love those photos, I'm definitely going to try it once I finish uni


  6. Wow. This is such a good idea! Love your DIYs.

    Heidy x


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