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Fairy Lights

Street lights at night can be very pretty. For someone who lives close to the centre of a large city, skirting round the edge of the town centre can provide a host of beautiful views at night.

One advantage to using a wide open lens when taking these pictures is the capture of bokeh, or creative blur. An extreme example is shown to your right; a mass of coloured circles that roughly represent the city they are part of.

A more subtle example, of course, is in the picture of the day at the top of this post. The lights cluster around the top of the leaves like fireflies, obviously part of a cityscape but at the same time abstract.

The extreme out of focus image is a blurred version of the picture on the left. A view over Sheffield from Pitsmoor, looking up Netherthorpe Road and up to the university. Even when the buildings are focussed (roughly; I'm still practicing) the lights take on the shape of the lens's aperture.

I try to incorporate some foreground focus when using blurred backgrounds to give the picture some grounding. Completely blurred pictures can look nice in the abstract, but to give them some context they need attaching to something "real". The brown leaves of the trees surrounding the town provide sufficient foreground interest to complete the picture.

I'm not 100% happy with these, but they're not bad considering it was raining and cold and very late at night. Maybe I'll have to get the tripod out, drop the aperture to f16 or f22 and take some long, detailed exposures of Sheffield at night.


  1. Could I borrow the first image for my personal blog? It's beautiful.

  2. Sure, no problem. If you could provide a link back to this page it'd be great. And thankyou :)

  3. Hello, I've used one of your photos (second) as a background on my blog, I hope that's not a problem? You did a great job, keep it up! Greetings from Poland

  4. Hello! I am also interested in using your second picture as an inspirational one on my webpage. If thats possible - how do you want me to refer to you?


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