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Old 12-24-2012, 08:25 AM   #1
In Town Square, envisioning Walt giving his speech
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Fun tip for shooting XMas lights

This is a fun tip for making interesting pictures with Christmas lights in the background.

Before you take your picture, you are going to need a cutout. Take a piece of black paper and cut out a square a little larger than the front of your lens. Cut a shape out of the square. This cutout is what your camera is going to "see" through. In the examples below, I've used a cross shape, a Mickey head, a star, and a butterfly.

1) Set up your camera (preferably on a tripod, but you can do this handheld with an assistant) to take a picture of your Christmas tree or some scene with Christmas lights in the background.

2) I like to use manual exposure mode and set up my exposure to underexpose a little (about 1 stop). It will probably work in auto mode, but most cameras have a tendency to overexpose those bright little lights. The main thing is to use as wide an aperture (f-number) as possible for this shot.

3) Put your subject somewhere between you and the tree. You don't want your subject too close to the tree because you want your subject to be in focus and the lights to be out-of-focus.

4) Focus on your subject.

5) You may want to add some light to your subject so that they aren't too dark. I bounced a flash off the ceiling for my pictures. You could also just turn on some bright lights in the room.

5) Hold your cutout in front of your lens. You want it as close to your lens as possible. If you have a lens hood on the front of your lens, take it off so that you can hold your cutout right on the front of your lens.

6) Take your picture.

Here are my sample shots. Pardon the subject. My usual models were all busy when I took these, so I had to use a timer mode and do modelling duty.

For a high res copy of my pictures, click on one. That will take you to that picture on my Smugmug site. Move your mouse of the picture on Smugmug and select "Save Photo" on the pop-up menu. You can also order prints.

Slideshows: PC or Video.

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Old 12-24-2012, 09:26 AM   #2
Taking the Monorail to EPCOT
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That is SOOOO cool! Thanks for the tutorial!
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Old 12-24-2012, 04:26 PM   #3
Checking out, and taking Magical Express back to MCO
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Thanks so much Mark!!! Great tip!!!

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Old 12-26-2012, 11:12 PM   #4
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Very interesting, Mark... Looks like a great way trick people into thinking I have a bunch of Mickeys on my tree. I'll have to try that out sometime.

Thanks for sharing... If you'd ever be interested in writing articles like this for the blog, let me know. lol to the last photo
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:23 AM   #5
E Ticket Holder
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Thanks for posting the tip. Great ideas!
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:33 PM   #6
E Ticket Holder
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Wow - thanks! I'll have to give this a try!

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Old 03-01-2013, 04:28 PM   #7
I'm on the tram
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Thanks for sharing!!!

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