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  • Jamie Guillet

    Must-Get Christmas Pictures Before the Tree Comes Down! The Christmas tree can provide an excellent background for some really unique photos- here’s a tutorial on how to get some great shots before that tree comes down. 1. The Christmas Tree Classic Bokeh Canon 85mm 1.8 f/1.8 1/40 sec 1600 ISO To get those big, beautiful, blurry lights, use your lens with the lowest aperture- For this picture, I used the 85mm 1.8, but the 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4 would also work nicely. Place your subject as far away from the tree as possible- we moved some furniture around so Howie could be about 8 ft away from the tree. The farther away the subject is, the bigger, and better, the lights will look. To take the picture, get as close to the subject as possible. You know how you can be so close to the subject that the lens won’t focus? I found that if I got that close, then scooted back just enough so that the lens would focus, the lights looked better. I have no idea why that is- I just preferred the ones that I took like that! :) 2. The Christmas Tree *Custom* Bokeh Canon 50mm 1.8 f/1.8 1/15 sec 1600 ISO Meep!! Little Howie surrounded by Christmas Hearts! :) Custom Bokeh is my favorite new technique. No, I don’t have little heart-shaped Christmas lights on my tree… and I didn’t have to buy any special lenses or filters to get this look, either! All I had to do was use a little tape, scissors and paper- all the stuff I already have in my scrapbook room. And the best part is, you can have custom bokeh in any shape you can cut out. Hearts, stars, mini Christmas trees.. I even tried a snowflake. You want to see something cool? Try this out. The original photo doesn’t change shapes.. Only the lights are affected! Come on, I’ll show you. Supplies You’ll Need 1. SLR Camera 2. 50mm 1.8 lens 3. Black cardstock 4. Removable adhesive 5. Scissors / decorative shape punches 6. Pencil 7. Tape 1. To begin, take a strip of paper and form a ring around your 50mm lens- tape the paper together so that it fits snugly around the lens. 2. Take the ring off the lens, place it on a piece of black cardstock and trace a circle around the ring. 3. Cut out the circle 4. Cut a square in the middle of the circle. I used an Xacto knife, but you could just use scissors. It doesn’t have to look pretty! 5. So, now you have a ring and a circle with a square cut out of the middle. Tape them together like pictured above to form a “hood”. For the benefit of the picture, I put the tape on the inside so you can’t see it, but you could tape it on the outside instead. It’s easier and it works just as well. 6. Now it’s time to cut out your shapes! You can use scissors or an Xacto knife (or even a die cutting machine) to cut out any shape you can imagine. I had these little punches that made it really easy. 7. Cut out your shape, being sure to leave enough room on the edges so you can attach it to the “hood”. I used removable adhesive so I could easily switch between shapes on the hood. 8. Attach the shape to the hood and put the hood on your lens- when you’re all done, it should look like this. Of course, I used a heart punch for the picture of Howie. I did have to use a tripod to take the custom bokeh pictures. Using the hood lets in less light, so you have to set your shutter speed slower to compensate- in my case, too slow to hand hold. But you don’t have to have a tripod. You could set your camera on a coffee table, tv tray, chair, bench, ottoman, whatever! Anything steady you can get your hands on. Canon 85mm 1.8 f/1.8 1/8 sec 800 ISO I loved how the snowflake punched turned out! Unfortunately by this time my models were thoroughly uncooperative, so I just had to take pictures of the tree. :P To get this look, focus on something close to the lens, like your hand, with the tree blurry in the background. Then move it out of the way and take the picture. The size of your cut-out will affect size of your custom bokeh- so play around with different shapes and sizes for all kinds of neat looks. I even tried punching out the letter “B”. The possibilities are endless! :) I would LOVE to see your Christmas Tree Bokeh pics!! :) Leave me a link to your pics in the comments- or share with me on Facebook. I would love to leave a comment for ya! Thanks for looking! :)

  • Angelle Fitzmorris

    I want this dog so much. he's so pretty Howie the Boston Terrier Puppy - Christmas Tree Bokeh by kevinandamanda, via Flickr

  • Liz Vaughan

    How to take christmas tree pics with lights in background. This dog looks like my boys when I say "time for the holiday photo"!!

  • Amanda West

    great Christmas photos - tutorials Great dog photo.

  • Tai Nguyen

    Tips on camera settings to get Christmas lights to look like big, blurry globes in the background...

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"Christmas Tree Bokeh - Top Christmas Pictures to Get Before the Tree Comes Down!" I CAN NOT wait for December to try this!! I've always wondered how you make lights blur into shapes.

Set up a corner area for photos with class friends or parents? Use sparkle paint from craft to do tree and snowflakes on background?

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@kasey brown, try landyn's pic like the below one...a small waterfall backdrop of lights, laying on an offwhite rug (patti's would be great, with christmas balls around her. sentimental xmas ornaments or objects would be nice, too... (just don't let her break them before the session is over!) lol

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cute baby's first christmas pic - Lexi will be so small, I wonder if she would fit into one of those giant stockings like my mom gets from YCME every year?

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  • Ellie Swanson

    Awesome pic - this is exactly how a Christmas tree it looks to me without my glasses - I've always wished I could photograph my view. Bravo!

  • Jami Franz

    love this...

This is cute, but I'm pretty sure my dogs would not sit there like that. They would probably try and eat the lights! Hahaha :)

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ministry of foreign affairs architect: oscar niemeyer 1962 photograph by weyerdk (julian weyer), via flickr