Thursday, December 13, 2012

christmas photo tutorial, pt 2

So excited that Lena asked me back again today!
I'm Christine, mother to 5 and wife to a Rocket Scientist! (Seriously ladies, he's a physicist that builds missiles and is mighty fine.)
I also own a body art company and am partner with my father's company, both allow me to stay at home with my munchkins.
My major passions in life all revolve around creating: children (I make cute ones), art, dance, music, sewing, crafting, cooking, and photography.
While learning to use my DSLR, I found it was really hard to find tutorials that weren't full of jargon I just didn't understand. I'd look up what one word meant only to have to look up two more new terms and so on. My goal with these tutorials is to make them using simple terms that anyone can understand and actually put to use.
PLEASE email me with your results or any questions! I love to chat and see if my little attempts at teaching have paid off.

Canon Rebel T3, 50mm, f/4.0, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Subject ~10 feet from tree, 1.5 feet from camera

 Most of what we are doing here is similar to our earlier tutorial:
The concept of distance for blur is still the same.
What we are changing is the shutter speed, aperture (f/), and ISO.

Shutter speed= how long your shutter is open.
ISO=The ISO number is not related to aperture size or shutter speed ...just represents how receptive your camera's sensor is to light.

Generally, the higher you have to set the ISO, the grainier your photo will be. So TRY to keep it as low as possible.
The slower your shutter speed, the more light comes in, however:
Slower shutter speed can make for blurry photos.
So you really need to play around with the two to get a clear photo that isn't super dark.

Your aperture or "f-stop" is your focus depth.
The lower it is, the tighter the focus.

Still with me?
I've labeled my photos with my settings to get you started.
Turn off ALL the lights in the house other than your tree.
If you have a tripod, great! If not, find something to steady your arm or your camera on.

All of these are with NO flash.
Flash is sometimes not our friend.

Pump up your ISO starting around 1600-2000 (depending on your camera)
Set your shutter speed fairly low to start, watch your little meter.
The closer your arrow is to the middle of your meter, the better, but off to the side 1-2 dots is fine.
Now, your f-stop will play with the light a little, generally if your f-stop is super low, your shutter speed can be faster. 
Higher f-stop may need a lower shutter speed.  
I set mine at f/2.0-2.2 so the lights would get just a hint of halo.  
Canon Rebel T3, 50 mm, f/2.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600
 And there you have it!
A glowing, clear, beautiful tree picture.
You can see some grain up around the top, but not too much.

Now on to some "artistic" tree photos: 

Blurry Tree Photo: 
(Here is my cheat!)
 Set my camera to "continuous shot".
Focus on my hand in front of lens.
Hold down my button and move my hand out of the way.
Blurry tree photo!
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/1.8, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Now for our silhouette shots: 
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Subject ~10 feet from tree, 2 feet from camera.

Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600

 This one is easy, as long as your subject holds still!
You can either do a blurry tree with solid silhouette, like above.
Or, do a blurry silhouette and sharp tree, like below.
It just depends on if you focus on the close subject or on the tree.
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600

Some fun photos to take can be while setting up the tree!

These tips can also work for taking photos while out looking at lights, the fireplace, candlelight, etc.
Enjoy your holidays and I hope these tutorials help you catch the magic! 


I am so happy to have such wonderful & talented bloggy friends, eh?
I'm still learning all the ins & outs of my camera and Christine's tutorials are amazing!!
Like she said, please let us know if you try out her techniques, we'd love to see the results!


  1. This was a great tutorial! Love the tip for the blurry tree. So smart!

  2. Beautiful photo!!! Thanks for sharing the tips!