6 things to photograph this Christmas

Use this holiday break to experiment with your photography

1. Christmas tree

The tree was created with a toy lightsaber, swung back and forth in increasingly wide movements; we shone a torch through cardboard templates to make fairy lights and other festive shapes. Try to visualise the design from the camera’s position, and bear in mind that the brightness of a light source and how long you leave it on for will determine how bright it appears in the image – so a weak torch left on for five seconds might give the same illumination as a bright LED switched on for a second.

2. Silhouette

Anything that gets between the light source and the camera will block the light and leave a dark patch in the frame, and you can use this to your advantage to create a silhouette. Simply ask a friend to stand in the scene and then paint behind them during the exposure – they’ll need to stay as still as possible throughout. To create this Rudolph the reindeer shape we made a pair of cardboard antlers, and we finished off the effect by shining a red light in the centre of the face to create the famous red nose.

3. Snowman

Attach a light to a length of string and swing it in a circle – a light with an open or dome-shaped head will work best. Try to keep the centre of the orb – your hand – in the same position during the exposure. To create our snowman we made one orb close to the ground, then shortened the string to create a smaller orb for the head. The hat was painted with a green LED, and the snowflakes were made by shining a torch through a cardboard template.

4. Mix with flash

A flash can be used to paint just like any other light source, but its lightning-fast duration means you can freeze a person and add them into the effect. You could fire the flash from the camera’s hotshoe, but why not take it off-camera? Firing the flash from one side will make the light look much more dramatic. Simply set the flash to manual mode, take a couple of test shots to work out the right power output (1/2 power here), then fire it by hand during the long exposure. Once done, paint in the lights and then close the shutter.

This feature was originally published in Photo Plus Magazine, to subscribe, click here