PowerShot and IXUS cameras have either a manual focus option or AF Lock (or both). If you only have AF lock available, aim the camera at a distant subject, or a very close subject, fix the focus by using the AF Lock and then aim the camera back at the main subject for an out-of-focus image.
Bokeh-coloured Christmas, You Connect member Antonio Tiani, Canon EOS 40D
Why would you want to take out-of-focus photographs? The technique works best where the subject has many distinct points of light. Coloured fairy lights on an indoor tree are perfect. Take a picture with an out-of-focus lens and the lights create an abstract pattern.
You may notice that the out-of-focus light becomes a polygon. The number of sides tells you how many blades there are making up the mechanical aperture of your lens. This effect is called bokeh and is created by lens aberrations and aperture shape, blurring the image in an attractive way.
The festive season is a good time to practice indoor close-up photography. All around will be bright, colourful objects – baubles on indoor trees, decorations – even seasonal food and confectionary.
Canon IXUS and PowerShot cameras have a Macro Mode. This is activated by pressing the button on the camera that shows the icon of a small flower or selecting macro focusing from the menu. Macro modes change the focusing range of the lens.
Experiment with your camera to find out how close you can go and remember to use the LCD screen and not your optical viewfinder.