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Thread: fun with fairy lights

  1. #1

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    fun with fairy lights

    I really like the blurred lights I see in some night shots here and elsewhere, so I created an exercise to simulate the effect. I managed to get a result I was happy with and thought it may be worth sharing with other novices. Some more experienced members are welcome to build on this or submit similar (i.e. better) examples of the effect.
    I took a string of battery operated coloured Christmas tree “fairy lights”, and wrapped them around 3 or 4 spindles on the staircase. I then put a subject (I used a few cushions) 3-4 metres / 10-12 feet away to focus on from 0.5 metres / 2 feet further back. After a few attempts fine tuning aperture and shutter speed, I was amazed at how much blur there was from these very tiny (3mm) lights. The lights were not really all that close to each other, but the blurred result created a lot of overlap producing the secondary colours.
    Comments most welcome. Shot with Canon 7D, 50mm, manual, f1.8, 0.5s, ISO100, tripod and self-timer. As shot, no edits.
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    fun with fairy lights

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    fun with fairy lights

  2. #2
    GiacomoD's Avatar
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    Re: fun with fairy lights

    Hi Noel,
    very nice shots and very interesting experiment.
    I was looking at the polygonal shape of the blurred lights: Is it caused by the shape of the lens aperture or by...? (I see you shooted f1.8).
    Just as an idea, it could be worth to try the same shots with a smaller aperture, maybe you could get more diffraction. On the other hand, the increased DOF will have to be compesated in some way (putting the light a bit more far?)

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: fun with fairy lights

    Hi Noel,

    A useful thread for those wishing to give this a try.

    It was a good learning experience, but now you just need a subject that complements the fairy lights and perhaps try them on a background that doesn't add its own pattern into the mix and/or with the room lights off, etc.

    Well done,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 7th February 2013 at 06:54 PM. Reason: I see but I don't register sometimes!

  4. #4

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    Re: fun with fairy lights

    hi Giacomo, thank you for your comments. I was also puzzled by the shapes, and I think you are probably correct that it is due to the aperture. Maybe someone can confirm this? I did try a few at f2.8, but I wanted the staircase out of focus and couldn't get far enough back to achieve this. Perhaps if I had used a zoom lens instead and moved further back from the subject I may have got it. Thanks again for your thoughts.
    - Noel

  5. #5
    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Lex

    Re: fun with fairy lights

    When you shoot an out-of-focus point light source, it will take on the shape of the camera's aperture. In this case, it looks like your lens has an 8-bladed, curved aperture (Canon 50mm f1.2L?) It's possible to add special cutouts to your lens to create bokeh in essentially any shape.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh

  6. #6

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    Re: fun with fairy lights

    hi Dave,
    Thank you. I am already thinking ahead on ways to expand on my new-found knowledge.
    - Noel

  7. #7

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    Re: fun with fairy lights

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    When you shoot an out-of-focus point light source, it will take on the shape of the camera's aperture. In this case, it looks like your lens has an 8-bladed, curved aperture (Canon 50mm f1.2L?) It's possible to add special cutouts to your lens to create bokeh in essentially any shape.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh
    Lex, I am impressed. It's actually a f1.4, but close enough. Thanks for the link, very good article. I like the idea of masking the aperture - my wife just cut a scalloped flower shape out of a piece of black card and then cut it to a circle shape to fit inside my lens hood, I'll try it out as soon as I have time.
    - Noel

  8. #8

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    Harry

    Re: fun with fairy lights

    Hi Noel - borrowed your idea (and your lights, lol), interestingly I couldn't get the shape you managed to get - Im wondering if the light impacted on this or maybe the distance between subjects,in my examples the second image the objects were further apart than the first, interesting experiment, I have to try more in some more natural light
    1. The lights were inside a decanter, a few draped outside
    fun with fairy lights

    2. Set up my tripod and draped the lights over it
    fun with fairy lights

  9. #9

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    Samantha

    Re: fun with fairy lights

    I tried this recently and had a really hard time making it work without limiting the outer edge of the image. I had a precut paper a friend gave me and told me to try...
    Any pointers on the correct way to do it though??

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