Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Creative Christmastime Photography

Christmas is a holiday of love and lights and provides many opportunities for interesting and creative photographs. This post is meant to inspire your own Christmastime photographs with some ideas and examples of creative Christmas-themed images (and to give you some ideas of photographs you can take without bothering the rest of the family!).

Make the Tree Shine

You can add an extra sparkle to your Christmas tree by turning the lights into starbursts. You will need a tripod to hold the camera steady, and a remote shutter release will help. Use a wide angle lens, such as 18 mm. In aperture priority mode, set an ISO of 100 and an aperture of f/22. This narrow aperture will cause each miniature light to be rendered as a starburst. Read more about starbursts in my guest post on Digital Photography School.

Go for Silhouette

You can use just the glow of the Christmas tree to create interesting silhouettes. This is a great technique to use with children as well, as the glow of the lights mirrors the excitement for Christmas on their faces. Expose the scene for the Christmas tree and glow, before positioning the person or persons for the silhouettes. (Read more on Explaining Exposure and Exposure Compensation.) Try to use a mid-range or narrow aperture to amplify the glow and starburst effect. The photograph above was shot at ISO 100, f/8, and a shutter speed of 3.2 seconds. (Trying to get f/22 would have been a much, much longer shutter speed, and it would have been difficult for the subject to hold still that long without blur becoming evident in the final image.)

Use Bokeh

Two earlier posts this month explored the idea of bokeh and how to use it creatively in photographs: All about Bokeh and Shaped Bokeh. Christmas trees and other strings of Christmas lights offer an easy bokeh-filled background. You will need a lens with a wide aperture (like f/1.8 or f/3.5) for best results. For more details, read the previous posts.

In this photograph, the entire tree is used as a bokeh background for the statue. The implied shape of the tree is visible in the patterning of the bokeh and serves to form a connection between the two figures carrying home their Christmas tree and the real tree in the background. Using the entire tree as a bokeh shape can make an interesting backdrop for many kinds of shots.

Capture the Whole House

Outdoor holiday lights are another possible Christmas photography subject. Plan to photograph the lights on a clear night during the Blue Hour, which starts about 15-20 minutes after sunset. Read all of the details in the post on How to Photograph Outdoor Holiday Lights.

Focus on the Details

Christmas decorations and traditions make excellent subjects for a still life. Here, the Christmas cards and Christmas cookies are complemented by a glowing arrangement of ornaments and lights. Think about featuring a memorable or significant decoration in its own photograph. Below is a small vignette created with miniature Christmas houses and characters, made more special as this was taken the first Christmas after I received these from my grandmother.

Remember to Kick Back and Enjoy It

And of course, do not forget that Christmas is also a time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holiday, surrounded by people you love. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Creative Christmastime Photography | Boost Your Photography

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