For many of us, winter can seem like a pretty miserable time for photography.
Sure, there's the potential for some stunning landscapes with the sun low in the sky, but with limited daylight and work getting in the way for most people, that's not always practical or possible.
With Christmas though you've got all this time off from work and you just want to get out there and take pictures. However, with family visits and other commitments, it's not always possible to disappear off to your favourite location with your camera kit.
Photography though is like an itch for most of us, especially if you've got a new camera or accessory you want to try, so what do you do?
Well, we've got six great Christmas photography ideas for you to try over the holidays that you can do either at home or nearby.
You don't have to do them all and you don't have to do them in any particular order, but they're all pretty straightforward and they might give you some inspiration to go off at a tangent with your own photo projects.
1. Christmas bokeh
Bokeh, as you may already know, is a Japanese word that refers to the quality of the defocused areas of an image, and we’re getting in the mood for Christmas by showing you how to capture bokeh with a festive flavour. It’s the perfect project to get you into the holiday spirit, and adds a lovely touch to home-made cards for friends and family.
The appearance of the bokeh in an image is dictated by the roundness of the lens’s aperture; the more blades the aperture has, the rounder the aperture and the smoother the blur. For this project we’re photographing fairy lights with a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, and placing a cut-out shape over the lens. The wonders of physics will cause the out-of-focus areas in the frame to take on the shape of the cut-out; in the same way that rounded apertures soften defocused areas, by creating an aperture with distinct and straight edges we can produce bokeh that takes on recognisable shapes.
Russian manufacturer Petzval makes dedicated lenses with different-shaped aperture slides for creating these effects, but a simple piece of black card can mimic the style superbly. For the best effect you’ll need to shoot fairy lights in a dark room – if you shoot outside, even at night it’s likely that there will be too many bright areas cluttering the background, which will prevent the shapes from standing out.