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Mariah Milan is an internationally published wedding photographer based on Maui serving all of Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Destinations Worldwide.

The mariah milan Journal

Maui, Things I Like

Bokeh Tutorial and Apple Sauce

I love Christmas lights. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the season I merely just take a look at them twinkling and my spirits are instantly lifted.

On my personal Facebook page and my personal blog I have had many friends and clients ask me how to make their Christmas tree look magical in the background of their photos. I’m happy to share a tutorial with you today.

The effect is called bokeh. To do this effect you’ll need an slr camera. My living room is not super well lit, but I do have some overhead can lights. I turned those on.

Set your camera to manual mode, and put your shutter to about 1/100 of a second (depending how dark the room is, you may adjust to 1/80 or even 1/60, but keep in mind the slower you go, the more steady you need to be!)

Set your aperture wide open. I was using my 50mm 1.4 prime lens, but I set it to 2.0.

Depending again on how dark your room is, set your ISO. Mine was at 800.

(does all this jargon sound crazy to you? email me and I’ll be happy to help you!)

Put your subject far away from your tree. Focus, and take the picture. If you’re finding that it’s still too dark, I would adjust your ISO first and then your shutter speed if necessary. The further away your subject is from the tree, the larger the round lights will appear.

They even look awesome in black and white!

(thank you to my sweet Kai Boy for putting up with me and the camera in his face today)

And if that wasn’t enough of a lesson, I have a recipe coming at’cha! We made homemade apple sauce today. This is a great project to get the kids involved – they have so much fun!

You’ll need:



Agave or Maple Syrup

Crock Pot

(descriptions are corresponding with image #’s)

1) make sure you sniff the cinnamon (Ry got cinnamon on the tip of her nose. It was so cute!)

2) Don’t do this – Kai decided he wanted to lick the apples before I peeled them.

3) Have each child choose their apples

4) Peel the apple (mom or dad need to do this part)

5) chop apples coarsely (another job for mom and dad)

6) Have the Littles put their apples into the crock pot

7) #7 is strangely missing (maybe you could put on music for this step!)

8) Don’t forget to eat some apples

9) And double check to make sure they’re tasty

10) Don’t put your peels down the disposal (I have learned this the hard way in the past!)

11) Have each Little sprinkle cinnamon

12) Add some maple or agave syrup (not too much… just a little bit)

13) turn your crock pot on low and enjoy the beautiful smell in your home! Cook down to your preferred consistency and serve by itself, with yogurt, on toast, on pancakes, ect.

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