Beryl Ayn Young » Photographic teachings for the mind, body, & soul

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a lesson in making holiday magic with a little twinkle, sparkle, & glow

On your mark. Get set. Ready or not here come the holidays!

With my list of tasks to accomplish in the next month piling up I pondered taking an evening for myself this past weekend. I was dead set on getting a head start on checking items off the holiday to-do list. Gifts to buy, presents to wrap, projects to craft. I considered being a part of the official holiday season induction by heading out into the post Thanksgiving shopping weekend mayhem, but in the end, staying in and snuggling with my favorite loves won over.  Which, in the end was the BEST because it gave me time to get to work on my FAVORITE part of the holidays instead.

Trimming our tree.

A big part of my infatuation with the tree? The photo opportunities!!! I love the orbs of light and beautiful glow a Christmas tree can add to photos.  Aren’t these just lovely?

In technical photography lingo that amazing blurry glow is called “bokeh”.  And the awesome thing is, dreamy photos like the ones above are incredibly easy to create. Are you ready for your photo lesson for the month, and the BEST holiday photos you’ve ever captured?

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Camera (you can achieve ‘bokeh’ with either a point and shoot or dslr camera)
2. Holiday lights (if your tree is ready, great! If not just grab a string of lights, plug them into the wall and play with them laid out on your floor or draped over the back of a couch, headboard, etc…)
3. A subject to photograph (could be your kids, however if you want to practice on a target that doesn’t move first I suggest grabbing a doll, teddy bear, Santa figurine, whatever you have on hand)

And here’s your step-by-step guide:

1. Setup your subject at least 5-10 feet in front of your tree or twinkle lights (the more distance between your subject and the lights the larger the orbs will be)
2. Set your camera to the letter “A” or “Av” (not, AUTO but “A” or “Av”), and use your dial to set the number on the display to a low number (2.8 is ideal if you can go that low, if not try keeping it at 4 or 5.6)
3. I prefer to turn my flash off, but you *might* need to turn it back on in order to get an image that is not blurry. (more on flash below…)
4. Make sure as you push the shutter halfway down and hear that ‘beep’ that your focus point in the viewfinder is lighting up on your subject. If your subject is what gets lit up then snap away! The lights in the background will be nicely blurred beautiful orbs.

A note on flash:

I prefer to use no flash whenever possible.  Photos without flash will always be easier to capture the more light you have available. Free free to turn the twinkle lights on during the day and take the photos using the natural light streaming in from windows (face your subject towards the light or else you might have photos that look a little like THIS). If you take your photos in evening after the sun has gone down turn on the twinkle lights AND any other lamps in the room. Trying these photos in the evening can easily result in blurry images if you don’t have a steady hand. Try keeping your camera steady by balancing it on a table or attaching it to a tripod if you have one.  If your night time images are TOO blurry then try then again with them same settings and the flash turned ON and see what happens.

Did you find this post helpful? Why not try out the new button below and click Pin It to save this lesson to Pinterst for easy access later.

Now go forth and make some holiday magic!

  • Diana - Wonderful blog. Met you on Pic the Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • jacqueline - Dearest sweet Beryl, wow this is awesome and very helpful! I love all these gorgeous happy holiday images! They make me smile! So glad i came by from picture the holidays group! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - What a fabulous camera tip! I am going to do it today! Thanks girl!ReplyCancel

  • in the thick of it - [...] This month’s challenge has been to give your memories a little sparkle and glow. And WOW! Your results have been incredible to look at.  Next week I’ll be sharing some the ways we’ve been filling our month with the joy of the season. But, today I want to share some of your results from our lesson in making holiday magic. [...]ReplyCancel

  • Liz ~ A Natural Nester - Just ran and tried this… so cool! Thank you, Beryl.ReplyCancel

  • Diane - Great article, very helpfulReplyCancel

  • Amanda - Thank you for the wonderful article! I have a question though. How did you edit the photos above? I’m especially curious about the top two little storyboards. Thanks again for the great tips.ReplyCancel

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