Thursday, December 04, 2008

A chistmas tree how to

Here we have two beautiful christmas tree photos of our Son:

Photography Techniques Christmas Tree Photo

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Now, here is how it is done....

First, you need to have the tree lit, and all of the other lights off in the room. Because light falls off over distance, and these lights aren't very bright, the light falls off pretty quickly. The further the tree is from the walls, the darker the walls are and the more the tree stands out from the background.

Because the room is so dark, you'll need to push your camera settings - high ISO (800 here), wide aperture (F1.4, 50mm lens) and slow shutter speed (1/20). With a slow shutter speed, you'll want your camera on a tripod for sure. In trying to maximize your light, you should also be wary of DOF. Here I focused on my Son and changed to M focus to make sure I didn't drift off of him.

This is really nothing more than a tripod mounted photo of a kid in a dark room, with one exception - the starburst on the lights. Photoshopped in? Nope.

When your aperture is set really narrow (F22 here) it creates a starburst on lights (I learned this trick shooting night time landscape photos). Try this - look at a light in your room and squint your eyes real narrow - same idea.

So the trick here is that I took two photos - a second one was taken at F22 with a six second shutter speed. I had my Son out of the picture for this shot (he'd be blurred all over the place at six seconds. So I had one photo of my Son in front of the tree with no starburst, and a second photo without him but with the starburst.

Then I layered the two photos and used a layer mask to combine them (see How To #10 here for a tutorial on using layer masks). By combining the images I get the best of both worlds.

Here is a trick to get this right...In this case I wanted to go from my widest aperture to my most narrow aperture. After I got the shot of Gavin, I switched from 1.4 to 22, but I counted the number of clicks that it took me to get there (16 I think). Then when I changed my shutter speed to compensate, all I had to do is turn it 16 clicks in the opposite direction and wa la, I have the same exposure. Only difference being the starburst and of course DOF.

Enjoy!

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19 Comments:

Blogger Sarah Holland said...

Those images are precious. Thank you for sharing your technique! I can't wait to try it.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Atchley Photography said...

These images are beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing.

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Desiree said...

Thank you for the tutorial Shawn, love these!

4:59 AM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Great photos, and thanks so much for sharing how you got it! I'll have to try it out when we ever get our tree up LOL...

6:12 AM  
Blogger Kristen Elardo said...

Shawn, thank you so much for taking the time to share your technique. I'm going to have to try this :).

7:23 AM  
Blogger Shirley said...

Shawn , these are perfect Christmas photos... a photo I have only dreamed of making of a child or grandchild... thank you so much for sharing.. loved all your photos.. I wished there had been more

7:41 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

Wow! Thank you so much for that! I love when pros are willing to share their knowledge. I can't wait to try it out!

7:47 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Cool trick! Thanks for sharing!!

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Jesse Shiyou said...

Thank you for sharing the technique! What a great idea! I can't wait to try it!

5:34 AM  
Blogger Susan Kozlowski said...

Very clever and beautiful image. It creates a magical mood. Thank you for posting.

7:09 AM  
Blogger Denise Kappa said...

Brilliant idea and tutorial. )Pardon the pun.) Never thought about shooting two separate frames. Last year I took a star burst photo of one of my granddaughters - and gave her explicit instructions not to move - ha. Yes, we had star burst effect, but she was a bit blurry :)

5:16 PM  
Blogger Jodie Greck Photography said...

Beautiful capture and thankyou for your sharing of how you caught these special moments :-)

6:53 PM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Super cool!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Amazing!! Simply spectacular!! Thank you so much for sharing how you did this!!

1:58 AM  
Blogger Tanya said...

Simply gorgeous! I was so excited and inspired to try it. One question, I tried this tonight and got like a stardust on my boy and the room at F1.4, but not at F16. Any idea what this could be? Am I placing myself at a wrong angle? I can't get one clear image. 50mm 1.2L at your settings.

Thanks!

6:55 PM  
Blogger Terri Young said...

Oh wow! I'm new to your blog, but if this was the only thing I took away it would have been worth it! I think you have a new fan. :)

8:02 PM  
Blogger Christene said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your secret!

12:39 PM  
Blogger Maddie Dean Photography said...

Thanks Shawn. Maybe I can get our tree finished tonight and give this a try!!

1:25 PM  
Blogger *Paint & Ink Chick* said...

Ok, Shawn I'm so gonna try this. So don't laugh when I post my results lol Hopefully they turn out cute. Thanks for sharing.

7:17 PM  

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