Bokeh Effect with Your Christmas Tree Lights

I love taking pictures of the tree and the “Bokeh” effect is one of my favorites.

Let’s first start with the definition of the word “Bokeh”.  Check out this link from Wikipedia.  Basically it means “blur” or “the aesthetic quality of the blur,  in out-of-focus areas of an image” or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.  And it’s pronounced “boh-ka”.


These were all taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR camera with my 18-55mm lense.

This is a picture of the centerpiece that is on our coffee table with the Christmas tree in the background.  I’m about 5 feet from the tree with the centerpiece right in front of my camera.  I was sitting on the floor.  Just focus your camera lense at the object closest to you and the lights on the tree should be blurred.  You can use a 50mm lense or like the one I used the 18-55mm lense.  More of the portrait size lenses work well to capture this look.

{f/2.8, 1/50 sec, ISO-3200}
I backed up a little further for this shot, so I was probably about 6-7 feet from the tree to get more of the tree lights into the picture.  Just keep backing up more and more to get the tree.  If you are taking a picture of your kids or dog in front of the tree, just keep moving the object {kids or dog or anything else} with you and the camera.
{f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO-3200}

{f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO-3200}
With this picture the stockings are “blurred” out in the background.  I’m probably about 3-4 feet away from the stockings.
{f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO-3200}
Just capturing a close up of the centerpiece here.
{f/2.8, 1/40 sec, ISO-3200}

OK, now I moved into the kitchen, so I’m probably about 15 feet away from the tree now.  I have a bowl full of ornaments on our island in the kitchen and that is what I focused on with more of the tree in the background.  Again the bowl of ornaments is right in front of my lense.  Focus on the ornaments right in front of you.

{f/4, 1/40 sec, ISO-2000}

A little bit more of the tree in this picture.

{f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO-3200}

If you let the camera focus past the ornaments and focus on the tree, this is what the picture will look like.  Now the ornaments are a blur and the tree is in focus.  Still a nice picture, but you don’t get the blur of the tree lights.

{f/5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO-3200}

I took a couple of steps back for this picture and it gave me more of the tree, but as you can see the lights aren’t such big blurs anymore.  You can see more where all the lights are on the tree instead of blending into one another.

{f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO-3200}

I pulled back the lense on this shot to see more of the room, but still focus on the ornaments.  You get to see most of the tree this way.  Now to explain a little further, I sort of bent my knees to get this picture because the bowl is lower to the counter top.  I wanted more of the tree in the shot.

{f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO-1250}

Zoomed in a little closer to the ornaments and got the TV out of the picture in the background.  But I still captured most of the tree in the background.

{f/4, 1/50, ISO-1600}

Now I moved onto a taller vase with ornaments in it.  It’s still on the kitchen counter, but I didn’t have to bend my knees to get the tree in the picture.

{f/5.6, 1/25, ISO-3200}

Zoomed in more on the ornaments and the light blurs became larger on the tree now.  Just keep playing around with the distance from the tree in the background, but always keep your subject or object closer to you and the camera.

{f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-3200}

Even closer in this picture.  Bigger light blurs.

Here I wanted to show you {in this very old picture} where the tree is placed is in where I was standing to take this picture.  So you can see how far away I was in the kitchen to take the pictures of the tree.

Now I took some regular close up pictures of the tree so you can see the details.  I love my sock monkey.  I used to have one as a kid and it was so much fun to find this little guy last year.

We bought a nice big gold bow for our tree this year.  I wanted to keep the gold, bronze and turquoise theme going in the Living Room as well as the Dining Room.  It is our Great Room, so I wanted it all to coordinate.

My mom made the ceramic santa when I was probably 5 years old.  I’m proud to hang it on my tree now.  She passed them onto me now because she only puts up a small tree and doesn’t have room for the ceramic ones.  I have more, but I didn’t take pictures of all of them.

You can also check out our Dining Room Tablescape post here.

Stop back for more details on the tree skirt.  I’ll show you how I got a nice fluffed-up tree skirt by recycling something.
How did you decorate your tree this year?  What colors did you use?  Do you love Bokeh pictures?  Are you going to go home and try to take Bokeh pictures now?  Hope this detailed post helped some of you out with how to get this look with Christmas lights in your pictures.  Enjoy and have fun with it.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment area.  Anyone have any other better information on how to take Bokeh pictures?  We would all love to hear.  So everyone can share away in the comments section.  :)
Thanks for stopping by everyone!!!  Have a great day!!!  :)

Thrifty Decor Chick


  1. says

    LED Christmas tree lights have some huge advantages over the old lights. First of all, they save you lots of money over the course of an entire Christmas season.

    The glowing LED (which stands for light emitting diode) orbs use up to 33% less power than other illuminators, which can translate to a savings of over $20 for the entire month of December.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *