Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Tree Photo Tutorial

Canon Rebel T3, 50mm, f/4.0, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Subject ~10 feet from tree, 1.5 feet from camera

 Most of what we are doing here is similar to our earlier tutorial:
The concept of distance for blur is still the same.
What we are changing is the shutter speed, aperture (f/), and ISO.

Shutter speed= how long your shutter is open.
ISO=The ISO number is not related to aperture size or shutter speed ...just represents how receptive your camera's sensor is to light.

Generally, the higher you have to set the ISO, the grainier your photo will be. So TRY to keep it as low as possible.
The slower your shutter speed, the more light comes in, however:
Slower shutter speed can make for blurry photos.
So you really need to play around with the two to get a clear photo that isn't super dark.

Your aperture or "f-stop" is your focus depth.
It is also how wide open your camera's "eye" is set.
The lower it is, the tighter the focus and more light can pour in.

Still with me?
I've labeled my photos with my settings to get you started.

Turn off ALL the lights in the house other than your tree.
If you have a tripod, great! If not, find something to steady your arm or your camera on.

All of these are with NO flash.
Flash is sometimes not our friend.

Pump up your ISO starting around 1600-2000 (depending on your camera)
Set your shutter speed fairly low to start, watch your little meter.
The closer your arrow is to the middle of your meter, the better, but off to the side 1-2 dots is fine.
Now, your f-stop will play with the light a little, generally if your f-stop is super low, your shutter speed can be faster. 
Higher f-stop may need a lower shutter speed.  
I set mine at f/2.0-2.2 so the lights would get just a hint of halo.  
Canon Rebel T3, 50 mm, f/2.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600
 And there you have it!
A glowing, clear, beautiful tree picture.
You can see some grain up around the top, but not too much.

Now on to some "artistic" tree photos: 

Blurry Tree Photo: 
(Here is my cheat! If you don't have a manual focus.)
 Set my camera to "continuous shot".
Focus on my hand in front of lens.
Hold down my button and move my hand out of the way.
Blurry tree photo! 
Now, if you have a manual focus, 
you could just blur it by setting your focus to be fuzzy. 
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/1.8, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Now for our silhouette shots: 
For the first one (and the one up top), 
the only light source was the tree.
 I placed the subject in front of it and set my camera as if I was taking a picture of the tree.
The back lighting will give you the lovely, soft silhouette.
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/80, ISO 3200
Subject ~10 feet from tree, 2 feet from camera.

Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600

 This one is easy, as long as your subject holds still!
You can either do a blurry tree with solid silhouette, like above.
Or, do a blurry silhouette and sharp tree, like below.
It just depends on if you focus on the close subject or on the tree.
Canon Rebel T3, 50mm lens, f/4.0, shutter 1/40, ISO 1600

Some fun photos to take can be while setting up the tree!

These tips can also work for taking photos while out looking at lights, the fireplace, candlelight, etc.
Enjoy your holidays and I hope these tutorials help you catch the magic! 

Featured on:
The DIY Dreamer



  1. I love your photo tips! You make Whimsy Wednesday look so good!

    Thanks for joining us,
    Kelly at Smart! School {House}

  2. A-mazing! First off, your family is adorable. I'm pretty sure I've told you that before though. I have the same exact camera so your tutorial is helping me so much. I played with the ISO over the weekend after reading your first tutorial. The next step is to play with the shutter speed and the f stop. So much to learn! I love it though. Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays.

  3. You're awesome!! I so want a new camera!!! LOVE your ''cheats'' hehe

    Thanks so much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality!

  4. So precious!! Love the tree silhouette!

  5. Fingers crossed- new camera for Christmas (and your tutorials so I don't take the worst photos ever!) Lovely, lovely, lovely!
    Thank you for linking up on the Photo Friday Blog Hop- we hope to see you next week :)

  6. Wow, These are awesome, very beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing with Foto Friday,

  7. Very nice tips and your kids are precious! Love that red hair :o)
    Thanks for sharing!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  8. Love these silhouette shots! Beautiful!! You are so talented and thanks for the tips!!! Beautiful children. :)

  9. CONGRATS!!!
    You have been featured at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality!! Come on over and grab your featured button, you deserve it!

  10. Thanks for the tutorials! Gonna try this today! :)

  11. What type of lens are you using for these? I have a prime portrait lens but your photos look a lot clearer than mine. We have the same camera body. Thanks and thanks for the tips!