Getting a lot of requests from fellow photographers about doing custom made Bokeh shapes for your photos.
Will try to explain the effect as much as I can here.
Alright, first off, you need a 50mm lens. Canon or nikon doesn't really matter as long as the aperture reaches at least f/1.8. The lower the number, the better the bokeh(depends on how close you want the subject to be also)
Now, get a piece of paper. Black is preferable. A black cardboard paper would work best.
Cut the shape of your choice. The most popular ones are hearts, 5 point stars, smiley faces, mouse pointers, tick marks etc...
Make sure the cut out is not TOO big. The smaller it is, the finer it will work on tiny lights. But in contrast, if you make it too tiny, it won't work on big light sources. For sake of simplicity, try not to go beyond 2cm.
At this point I should mention exactly how the system works..but just wait till a few minutes..
Here's the most important part in the construction.
make sure...ABSOLUTELY SURE, that you cover the lens properly.
The shape must be positioned in the center of the lens, and the rest is covered. I prefer you use a rubber band to hold the paper or cardboard in place instead of tape, since if you use tape, it could mess up your beautiful lens.
Anyway, there is no way for me to explain it better than to show it...and this pic I found on google seems best to convey my message.
If in case you don't cover the lens up clearly, then stray background lights may enter and just mess up your shot.
Now for the creative process.
1. You need a good background, with lots and lots of point sources of lights. For landscapes, the street lights work beautifully, candlelights are a classic if you want just one or maybe a couple of bokeh. The ever classic LED christmas/diwali lights work wonders too.
For the hearts in my shots, I used a regular lamp, and added fiber optic wire. Basically, any point sources of light will work fantastic.
2. You have to keep your aperture at its lowest value..f/1.8. And its better if you keep the lens out of focus in the background.
Those who want to experiment directly at intermediate levels, put an object in the foreground and lights far away in the background, like the best one I have seen so far... a coffee mug in the foreground, focused perfectly, and the lights in the background..around 10 LEDs, which have the smiley bokeh on it. Fantastic shot indeed.
But if you are doing just lights like mine, and taking them close up, then you HAVE to keep the lens out of focus.
Now, I had tried my shots with plain notebook paper, and I technically don't advise it since it won't work in daylight. You just HAVE to use black paper to block out the stray light.
So, to sum it up.
1. A 50mm lens
2. Cut the shape of your choice.
3. With a rubber band, fold the entire paper or cardboard over the lens.
4. Aperture as low as possible.
5. The closer the point source of light, the more out of focus you need to set for your lens.
Go forth and experiment
Some of my examples :