How to Capture Bokeh Christmas Lights with a Phone

Bokeh Christmas Lights

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December 12, 2018

Capturing bokeh Christmas lights with your phone can be a difficult task for photographers. Bokeh is a light effect that is created by using the light and lens together to create blur in an artful way.  Getting bokeh on a smartphone does require some knowledge and practice. With a smartphone, you create bokeh effect with just your phone. There are a few great apps to create the blurry background. Newer phones have portrait mode or selective focus that can create a fantastic background blur. In this article we are going to explore how to take Christmas pictures using the native camera app and AE/AF lock feature to create bokeh. We will also explore a great app for Android or iPhone for adding Bokeh effect. 

Create Bokeh Christmas Lights with Focus Lock on a Smartphone 

Find a close object that is a similar brightness or exposure as the subject you will shoot. If you are shooting bokeh Christmas lights you will want to get as close to the light as you can to a light bulb. 

Tap on the screen to lock the focus. This can easily be done by holding down the focus button for 1 second. The AE/AF lock will appear on the screen, and then the focus will be locked. 

With the AE/AF lock the focus will stay the same so you can move your phone to capture the whole subject. This will create a bokeh effect. If you are taking a picture of your Christmas tree, get as close to a bulb as you can. Then turn on the AE/AF lock feature to lock the bulb in place. Next, pull the phone away to capture the whole tree. Then your shot will show a beautiful bokeh image with glowing light flickers.  

Bokeh Mobile Photography

Create Background Blur with Editing Apps 

After taking a shot, you can easily add image blur to your image with editing apps. Some editing apps allow you to use an editing brush that adds the feature. Other edit apps have the blur feature as a “bulls eye” with a central point and circles where you can adjust the blurriness of the circle.  

iPhone Editing Apps for Bokeh on a Phone 

On the iPhone there are a few free apps that you can try to edit your photo. Blur Photo is an app to add background blur by using a brush to control the amount of blur that is in your photo. Snapseed is a very powerful app that you can use to add the Lens Blur feature to create blur that will add a circle blur effect surrounding the subject.  

Android Editing Apps for Bokeh on a Phone 

Android also has great apps that you can use to edit your photos and add Bokeh. AfterFocus allows you to enable the blur of the background of the image. You can also add background blur affects quickly and easily. Next, add filters where you can add colorful spots of lights in the background. Snapseed can also be used on Android to create great blur effects. 

Mobile Photography Bokeh Christmas Lights

With these tips and tricks, you will quickly learn how to take better mobile photographs. You can capture Christmas this season by using Bokeh to create image blur. Quickly edit images by using apps to create blur on any photo.  

To learn more mobile photography tips and tricks check out these posts or get weekly updates by reading our blog at

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