Nov 26/19 Bokeh and Christmas Photography

This session will be about how to create appealing Bokeh pictures and considerations around Christmas photography. Last year Barb Kreutter put together two sessions on Christmas photography and produced a tip sheet. (some of the content at the bottom of this page). We will have a series of Christmas props for you to practice on. This will be really hands-on where we will move objects around and use Aperture Preference and Manual. Be prepared to play with high ISO and long shutter speeds. A tripod is recommended, so if you have one, bring it.

We will do our regular review of submissions first, followed by a short discussion on prints. Henri has prepared a number of prints for the CALL Cafe Craft Fair which will be held on December 9. He is quite happy with the final results, but had the normal frustrating experience of multiple prints to get the final results right. Henri will demonstrate the lengths he had to go through to get a decent result. Hopefully some of his tips will help you get great prints from your photo processing lab.
For inspiration, the link above is Barb Kreutter’s web page with Christmas themed images.

For Manual Bokeh:
Use Aperture Preference (Av or A) or Manual (M)
Select Spot Metering
Set your lens for Manual Focusing
Turn the lens focus ring until the lights form large circles.

Bokeh with a point and shoot camera:
Choose Macro Mode (flower mode)
Turn off Flash
Change the distance to the lights and take a photo each time.

Click Here for a link to the Digital Photography School Christmas Image Examples

You can also make custom Bokeh shapes for special effect Christmas pictures. By cutting out small cardboard shapes and sticking them over your lens opening (Where your lens cap normally is located.)
Click Here for a link to the Digital Photography School Custom Bokeh Shapes page.

Outdoor Christmas Lights on AV Mode:
Use a tripod or other solid surface to reduce blur
Set your camera to Aperture Preference mode (A or Av)
Choose Evaluative metering
To get Starburst effect choose the smallest aperture (f/22)
Choose a high ISO value to reduce camera shake even on a tripod
Check the image on your camera for quality and adjust the ISO
Adjust White Balance to Tungsten if necessary.

Special Effect Christmas Images:
Set your camera to Shutter Priority (Tv or S)
Select Tungsten White Balance
Select Evaluative Metering
Select a shutter speed of 1 to 4 seconds
Press the shutter button and move the camera while the shutter is open.
Or press the shutter button and use the zoom feature while the shutter is open

Example of outdoor Christmas lights using a zoom effect

Capturing Snow Scenes:
A common photography problem is that snow displays rather gray on images. The simple fix is to “over expose” your images. Most cameras have “Exposure Compensation” . Move the exposure marker to the right anywhere from +1/2 to +3 stops. Experiment – Digital Images are Cheap.
Shoot for creative content – f/5.6 to f/11 – everything in focus. Or f/1.4 to f/3.5 for blurred background.
For sunny days use a low ISO such as 100. For darker situations you will need higher ISO.
Click Here for tips on taking photos in the snow. Here is another set of tips.

Christmas Food Photography:
Food looks typically better when most of it is in focus with a simple blurred background.
Consider your Aperture setting for the best effect. Shutter speeds can be slower if you use a tripod. Otherwise you can adjust your ISO to high values. Flash typically does not look good for food photography. If you need to, bounce it off the ceiling with a redirect card or reflector. Try different angles such as “Straight Down” or “Table Level”. Try close-up by using a macro lens or a macro setting on your point and shoot.
Click Here more information on Food Photography.

Christmas Children and Group Photos
Be ready! Have your batteries charged and your memory card empty. Check that your settings are ready to go. Clean up the clutter in the room beforehand. It is OK to have your camera on AUTO and use BURST mode in order to capture those candid camera moments.
Group people roughly at the same distance from the camera, so everyone is in focus. Use contiguous focus when kids are moving around. Try focusing on the eyes for close-up photos. Get down to kid level. Pay attention to the background.
Click Here for some cute Family/Kid Christmas Picture Ideas
Click Here for more ideas.

Your Christmas Tree
Don’t use flash and have your Christmas tree lights on of course
Use Spot Metering. Depending on your point of view, meter off the tree or off faces
Turn off the lights in the room except the Christmas tree.
Use a tripod for longer time exposures. For handheld you need very high ISO values
For starburst effect use a small aperture such as f/22
For Bokeh effects use maximum aperture and focus on a nearby object such as a face or a decoration. Note that you need some distance between the tree and your subject. When you use wide-angle your bokeh balls will be small. Best effects are around 100mm zoom.
Press the shutter button and check the image then adjust your camera for the real shot
Experiment with different apertures and try different angles such as low-looking-up
With LED lights best results are at shutter speeds of 1/60 to 1/30 second.
Try silhouettes of people in front of the tree.

13 Responses to Nov 26/19 Bokeh and Christmas Photography

  1. Carla Bolen Anderson says:

    Bokeh #1. Finally got this to work by using the ‘portrait’ feature.
    ISO 200, focal length 61 mm, f/5.6, shutter speed 1/8, exposure comp -2

  2. Carla Bolen Anderson says:

    Bokeh #2
    ISO 200, focal length 93 mm, f/5.6, shutter speed 1/5, exposure comp -1

    • Henri says:

      Lovely detail Carla. I love the sparkle at the horse’s front hooves. Excellent balance between foreground and bokeh brightness.

  3. Carla Bolen Anderson says:

    Bokeh #3
    ISO 200, focal length 69 mm, f/5.6, shutter speed 1/5, exposure comp -1

    It was a pleasure getting to know everyone and learning from each of you. I’m off on vacation, so won’t be at the last class. Cheers!

  4. della says:

    Bokeh ISO 400 1/60 f5.6 300mm

  5. della says:

    ISO 400 1/50 145mm f5.6

  6. Frankie says:

    Really really big bokeh! Not cropped. See how they are not round at the edges of the frame. Handheld, since my husband’s tripod was very lame (I found out it’s 50 years old), so you can see camera movement. Kind of a Venn diagram effect with the overlapping circles in the centre. Fun class!
    ISO 1600, 400 mm, f/6.3, 1/100

  7. Frankie says:

    I wasn’t going to post this because Carla’s is so good, but I thought it would be interesting to compare the settings. Definitely Carla’s works better with the 93 mm focal length.
    Mine: ISO 1600, 265 mm, f/6.3, 1/30 handheld

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