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Capturing Holiday Magic at Home

December 20, 2021 by Marie Joabar

If travel is not in your plans over the holidays here are a few photo ideas you can capture in your own home.
You’ll need your camera, a zoom lens in the range of 24-70mm and a tripod so you can shoot with lower ISOs.

Holiday Presents

Create your own mini studio photographing gift wrapped presents. Use the tree as a colorful background or try using mini white lights for some holiday magic.
- Find an arrangement of small boxes that you can wrap and use for your ‘presents.’
- This can easily be done during daylight hours, just make sure not to include any windows in the frame.
- Get close to the presents (either with your feet or with your zoom lens) and pull the presents away from the background so it will be nicely blurred.  
- Use a wide enough aperture to give you blurring but consider the depth in the arrangement of the presents. If you’re close enough, you’ll naturally have good blurring so you may not need to open the aperture all the way.  
- Use a low ISO and get the light you need from the shutter speed.
- Consider a reflector to add a little light to the front of the packages if they’re backlit.
- Try placing mini lights behind or woven between the packages for some extra magic.

Flat Lays

Find some evergreen branches, pine cones, holly berries, or similar, and make a beautiful flat arrangement of them.
- Place your subject on a light tray and if you don’t have one, try a white cloth.  
- Shoot straight down on the subject making sure the camera is not tilted.
- Depending on how high your subject is, dial in the aperture to capture the depth of field that you want.

Holiday Ornaments

With the tree lights on, capture your favorite ornament(s).
- The ambiance will be more colorful in the evening than in daylight.  
- The white balance may need to be adjusted depending on the lights you’re using. Try incandescent or others that give you the best look.
- Watch that the placement of the lights don’t distract from the main subject.
- Try a single ornament as well as a nice grouping of several.

Holiday Lights

Have fun photographing the holiday lights using the zooms and swipes techniques. Also play with capturing bokeh.
     - Camera Movement – The key with the following techniques is having a long enough shutter speed to move the camera while you are exposing. Typically we use a very low ISO, a small aperture like f16 or 22, and this allows us to have a 2 or 3 second exposure.

     - Zooms – Using a zoom lens, try twisting the zoom ring while exposing.
     - Swipes – instead of zooming, swipe the camera up or down, or side to side, and the lights will show as lines.
     - Squiggles – hand hold the camera and jiggle it for a fun image. See photo.
     -Try these on the tripod for a cleaner look. Hand holding can work but the images will not be as sharp or clean due to the longer the exposure time.

   - Bokeh (pronounced boka) is out of focus light. Capture subjects in front of the lights. To blur them, get close to your subject, have some distance between your subject and the background, and use a wide aperture in the range of f2.8-f4.5.

Other Exciting Possibilities to Photograph;

- A decorative plate of holiday cookies.
- Holiday stockings together with a crackling fire in fireplace.
- Your child standing in front of the lit tree will show as a silhouette.
- Yours (or your neighbor’s) front door wreath.
- The list goes on…

Whatever you choose to photograph we hope you enjoy framing some holiday magic.

We’d love to see your favorites, tag us on Facebook or on Instagram and share with us!