DIY Christmas Card Portrait from Burleson Texas

December 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

DIY Christmas cards - love it or hate it, everyone has tried this at least once. Here at CBP, it has become a bit of self imposed torture tradition. This year, with our move to Burleson Texas, we wanted to make our new home part of the theme, albeit as microscopic as possible, since we are still in a bit of disarray from the move.

DYI Christmas Card 01 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 01 Photo

For a quick reminder from the archives: This 2011 card was made by shooting each of the kids and ourselves separately and compositing the images together for a cohesive family portrait. The trick was to tape the box to the floor for a point of reference and use a tripod. Also, I needed to make sure that my poor attempt at a beard would be as blurry as possible!

DYI Christmas Card 03 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 03 Photo

In 2012, one of our weekly pleasures was driving through the Christmas light show at the Frisco town square. That year we hauled out a flash to light ourselves and used a tripod to ‘drag the shutter’ for exposing the lights all in one shot. All of the other spectators just stared at us with confused looks on their faces while we created this very special reminder of our wonderful time in Frisco. We still miss all of you guys (...and the light show)!

DYI Christmas Card 02 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 02 Photo

So, was this year's card a fancy Photoshop trick, you ask? Nope! We tried with much effort to create our portrait as authentically as possible right in the camera.

If you couldn't care less about the technical information, feel free to skip this last section...Want to nerd out with me? Then proceed.

Here was the process: First, find the largest glass ornament to provide the least distortion. This proved almost impossible on short notice, late in the holiday season, but our grapefruit sized, wavy, plastic model from Hobby Lobby would suffice. Thankfully we found one smooth spot on the surface. Next, I had to pick a camera focal length (that’s the ‘mm’ number on your lenses). You can see the differences in the examples below starting with 18mm, 105mm, and 200mm. As you can see, each variation changes how much of our tree you can see either behind the ornament, or in the reflection, as well as the amount of distortion in the reflection. The 105mm was ideal in my opinion, and this being a macro lens let me focus the camera closer to the ornament.  

DYI Christmas Card 04 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 04 Photo DYI Christmas Card 05 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 05 Photo DYI Christmas Card 06 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 06 Photo

The next challenge was to frame the shot to show our tree with us in the reflection, and find a suitable complimentary background beyond the ornament. When all else failed, we put up a red sheet. Last, because focus was extremely difficult to achieve, we created a reference point of where to hold the ornament using a wooden kitchen skewer behind the ornament.

DYI Christmas Card 07 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 07 Photo

Now, set the timer, convince the kids to smile at a tiny inanimate object, pray for perfection, and we’re there! The stars all aligned just moments before a frustrating fist fight ensued. As it turns out, the children thought our request to make faces at the ornament was one of the goofiest suggestions ever, making smiles the easiest part of the entire process.


If you like a challenge, then by all means DIY Christmas images can become a great tradition and family time capsule like they have become for us. Just want a great image without the fuss? Call CBP (Shameless plug)!

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas, and bless God for the season.

DYI Christmas Card 09 PhotoDYI Christmas Card 09 Photo

Pop quiz, go back and find the camera in this years card. No photoshop here. ;)



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