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12-15-2009, 04:03 PM   #1
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Christmas tree shots

Hey guys,

I am having trouble shooting a decent looking Christmas tree phot. Either they come out too bright and thus hiding the lights, or they are too dark to see the ornaments.

Any tips?

Thanks

12-15-2009, 04:21 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by sebberry Quote
Hey guys,

I am having trouble shooting a decent looking Christmas tree phot. Either they come out too bright and thus hiding the lights, or they are too dark to see the ornaments.

Any tips?

Thanks
Use a tripod so you can use slow shutter speeds, then play around.

Some examples of what you have got so far would be a good strating point for us to go from.
12-15-2009, 04:41 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by sebberry Quote
Hey guys,

I am having trouble shooting a decent looking Christmas tree phot. Either they come out too bright and thus hiding the lights, or they are too dark to see the ornaments.

Any tips?

Thanks
You can use flash but drag your shutter ....I got a good shot of mine this year with a 2 second exposure with an on camera flash and slave flash to ensure even lighting (big tree). Naturally, with that exposure you will need a tripod.
12-15-2009, 05:14 PM   #4
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It all depends upon the surrounding lighting and the brightness of the Christmas tree. You don't tell us if the tree contains lights or not, if it is inside or out (the lighting is different) and if you want the lights (if it is lighted) to show up as pinpoints or bright "blobs" in the tree.

All these situations will require a different approach, so please give us some more info.

12-15-2009, 05:24 PM   #5
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Hmm.. guess I'm not sure exactly what I want. Seeing a bit of glow from the lights would be nice, but I'd like to see some of the ornaments too. I don't want to use flash and light up the whole room and make the tree lights invisible.
12-15-2009, 06:02 PM   #6
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Meter on the ornaments and it will have the proper exposure since it is the one you want to come out.
12-15-2009, 07:38 PM   #7
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This makes me want to try some in-camera HDR with my tree. Get detail in the branches, but keep the lights from blowing out. And if that's too challenging for in-camera, maybe doing it on the computer would have good results.
12-15-2009, 08:02 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by flyer Quote
It all depends upon the surrounding lighting and the brightness of the Christmas tree.
yep... need to balance the background light to suit the tree lights.

If you can't do this with house lighting/blinds, maybe try different times of the day, bit like taking a cityscape after sunset but before there's no twilight left.

Nige.

01-02-2010, 12:16 AM   #9
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set your white balance AWB is only good in good light imo then choose Av mode set your aperture have SR on, inhale press the shutter on a slow exhale; if you got that tripod mount the camera turn off SR set your aperture in Av mode then repeat the breathing exercise.
Using Tv mode set your time and shoot a few frames starting around 1/30s and slower. Crop according to taste

Last edited by Clicker; 01-02-2010 at 12:21 AM.
01-02-2010, 02:50 AM   #10
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Here is a simple cheesy trick . Set your camera to MF and intentionally mis-focus, then take a picture of the tree. The more lights on the tree, the better the result.

01-02-2010, 05:31 AM   #11
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I set up 2 off-camera flashes in my den for Christmas morning. I will make a detailed post on this later. At any rate, I shot in manual with a shutter speed of 1/60 so that I would get the tree lights glowing without making the tree go too dark. From there, it's all about how much fill flash you use. If you have on-camera flash, I suggest bouncing it off the ceiling so the tree doesn't get blasted.

As for white balance, I balanced for flash and let the tree lights & lamps in the room glow yellow. I like the warm effect. If I wanted EVERYTHING white, I could have balanced for tungsten and gelled my flashes with CTO gels.

Examples:

This one was nice - the wrapping paper acted as a reflector giving my daughter a little extra glow.


The tree is a little blurred in the distance here:


My wife shot this with direct, on-camera flash -- I find the tree less interesting:


This is a portrait that I did last year with off-camera lighting and a 1/45 shutter f2.8. Thius was for our Christmas card.



Good luck!!!
01-02-2010, 09:47 AM   #12
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Those are *really* nice. Wish I had the patience to learn to shoot that way.
01-02-2010, 10:48 AM   #13
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Hrm, wow... This takes me back a while.

I used to do tree shots for the family every year: I think I favored using a cheesy cross-screen filter on a very stopped-down lens (to make the stars tiny) ...this also functioned to give a bit of diffusion. (If you were a precocious young photo person in the early 80's, *everyone* gave you special effects filters. )

I can't quite remember what I did for light: I think it was just an ordinary room light on somewhere at night. (I'd be just using color negative film for the holiday snaps: the lab would generally deal with or ignore any white balance issues, and it'd look all warm and pleasant) Maybe a little underpowered flash during a longish exposure.

One thing you could do with digital and a long exposure is, put the tree lights on an extension cord that you can get at easily. Find the exposure that gives you the right look to the tree itself with the lights on, then find the best exposure for the lights. Make your exposure for the tree itself, then while the shutter's open, just pull the plug when you've gotten enough of the lights.
01-09-2010, 10:47 AM   #14
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I took these shots with an AF280T mounted to the hotshoe and directed straight up. I dragged the shutter pretty significantly to get the background properly exposed. I've never gotten better Christmas tree shots before and feel like I'm getting more comfortable with playing with flash exposure.
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01-09-2010, 05:05 PM   #15
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Here is one from christmas.
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