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A journey in Photography and sharing of how I go about taking various types of photos. Discussions include software and camera equipment and how to make the most of your equipment in a given situation.

Christmas Cards

12/01/2007 21:01

Over the last couple of weeks I have been slowly collecting a selection of "props" that I need. I have been purchasing items that I can put together to make my own Christmas Cards. I could be like everyone else and go out and buy cards, but then they would not have the unique and personal qualities of a hand made card.

I got all my props together and Today I finally set about taking a series of photos for my Cards.

Now, props don't need to be expensive and I spent less than $30 on everything I needed. the props consist of a selection of painted glass balls, some green and Red Tinsel and a red and white trimmed Santa hat.

Now, with all my Items in hand, I needed somewhere to set up each shot and take the photos. As you can guess, taking photos of items like glass balls and Tinsel need to be very carefully staged - as they are both very reflective items.

As luck would have it, today was very overcast - so much so that there were almost no shadows cast by anything. With the main lighting sorted out, I still needed to set everything up very carefully to ensure the results were what I was looking for.

So, I took all my props out to my Carport - which gave me additional shade as well. I made use of my white linen sheet as the background to set up each shot on - in the event of any background getting into any shot at least it would be "clean"

The last part of my lighting, which proved to be a very important aspect was a backlight. Behind the white sheet, which is actually 8 layers thick, I set up a remote flash. The purpose of the flash was to ensure that any background visible was pure white, and a very small amount of it "spilled" into the scenes I shot adding just a hint of highlight and further softening some of the very light shadows.

Above is an overall shot of my "Studio" for the shoot today.

From the photo, you will see that I made use of a doorway, and additionally the (almost) white door. The remote flash was actually sitting in behind the Santa hat you see in this scene.

Now, the objects I was shooting were quite small and there were a lot of things to consider. I needed to choose the right lens to get the picture. Of course, I needed to consider not just what lens to use but the Camera settings as well.

Now the choice of lens was fairly easy - I chose my 50-200mm zoom lens and set the Camera up on a Tripod about 1.2 metres from the main subject. In the end, I used focal lengths between 100 and 160mm to take my photos.

As already mentioned, taking photos of highly reflective subjects means taking care so today, I opted to shoot fully manual. Now, as I was quite close shooting at fairly long focal lengths I chose fairly small aperture values. I shot with aperture values between F6.3 and F9 - depending on the actual shot. Due to the (excellent) low light I was working with, the photos were all shot between 1/10 and 1/30sec. It goes without saying that I made use of a Tripod and I additionally used a remote shutter release to further minimise the chance of movement.

I took around 10-15 test shots to get the exposure right before proceding to take around 40 photos which made use of my gathered props. The whole "shoot" took me a bit over an hour.

In the end, I chose my 5 favourite photos and had 6x4 prints made of them. I will now simply glue these photos to a piece of folded card so I can write my Christmas greeting on them and post them out to Family and Friends.

So, gather some props, set up some lighting (or wait for an overcast day) and make your own personalised cards.

The last aspect of the photos was of course the processing and preparing the images for print. As I had taken plenty of time in getting everything right in-camera, there was very little to do. The processing I did do was simply some very minor corrections such as sharpening and then cropping them for the print size. I made use of Lightroom to do all of the post processing.

Here are the 5 photos I chose for my Cards.

If you are lucky enough to be on my list, then you will get one of these in the post!


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