Monday, December 19, 2011

Taking Pictures of that Tree

Hey everyone! Happy week before Christmas! I hope that everyone has a non-stressful week and can easily tie up all of the pre-Christmas loose ends!

Ct 1

We thought we'd carry on our tradition of walking through our Christmas homes this week. Hurray!! I love looking at other people's holiday decor! :)

Sign 1

However, as I walked around my home with my camera this afternoon, I realized something. I didn't do a lot of decorating for Christmas this year.

Twine 1

My baby is 6 months old now, and at the (st)age where there is lots of "stuff." High chair, bumbo seat, exersaucer, baby swing, teething toys, snuggly toys, food props, etc. This is in addition to my 3 year old's things. You get the picture. Stuff.

Garland 2

So when it came time for my Christmas decor, I went minimal. My house can get cluttered quickly, and I didn't want the decorations to become "Christmas clutter," and add to "baby clutter" and "3 year old clutter" and "adult clutter."

Garland 1

So instead I'm going to give you a few pointers for getting a good picture of that Christmas tree. You have one more week with your tree, so don't put off that shot any longer!!

I'm sure there are lots of tutorials around blog land about taking pictures of your tree. But I thought I would share my tree photos and walk you through my settings and thought process a bit. I hope it is some help to you in getting that perfect picture!

(These photos are all straight out of the camera, no editing. I wanted to show you how adjusting the settings alone changed the photos.)

Tree 3

Tree Shot #1

ISO 640, Aperture 2.8, Shutter Speed 1/4 second

This was my starting point in my tree pictures. I used a tripod since I was using such a slow shutter speed, but you could easily place your camera on a steady surface to get a similar effect.

I like it, but the tree and the room are too bright. I don't like the shadows that the branches are casting on the walls or how my curtains seem to play a role in this picture. Overall, I want the room darker.

Tree 4

Tree Shot #2

ISO 640, Aperture 2.8, Shutter Speed 1/6 second

I made my shutter speed slightly faster, but all other settings are the same.

This is better, I like how the tree isn't so bright, but I still think that the room should be darker, and I want my lights to be a bit more twinkly.

Tree 1

Tree Shot #3

ISO 500, Aperture 14, Shutter Speed 2.5 seconds

I changed my settings up completely, going a stop down in ISO so that the whole shot would be darker, a much smaller aperture for the "star effect" on my lights, and a much slower shutter speed to accommodate the small shutter speed.

This is much more of what I had in mind. I love the star effect on each of the lights. But I wonder if it is slightly too dark now?

Tree 2

Tree #4

ISO 500, Aperture 18, Shutter Speed 6 seconds

I made my shutter speed even slower so that the room would be brighter, and the aperture smaller so that it wouldn't be too bright, and I still kept the twinkly star lights.

Perfect! A not-too-bright and not-too-dark, sparkly tree!!

But now I'm wondering if I like Tree #3 best, hmmmm...

Tree 5

Tree #5

ISO 640, Aperture 2.8, Shutter Speed 1/6 second

And just for fun, if you want to throw in a picture of just the lights on your tree with none of the details, try this trick.

Switch your camera from auto focus to manual focus, and twist your lens until the tree is out of focus, and then take your shot. The smaller your aperture, the bigger your light blobs will be.

Fun, right?

Now, which tree is your favorite? #3, right? Or #4...hmmm...

Have you taken some pictures of your tree this month that you'd like to share? Or have you done a tour of your holiday home? Please share in the comments below!!

Have a safe and wonderful holiday!!!

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TBonesMom December 19, 2011 at 9:24 AM  

#4 is my favorite. One of these days when I have time to "play" with my camera, I will give these ideas a shot. (pun intended)

Nicole December 19, 2011 at 2:02 PM  

I'm partial to #4 as well and the fun all bokeh one that would make a good background for some sort of Christmas typography.

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