DIY Christmas Card Portrait from Burleson Texas
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
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!
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)!
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.
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.
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.
Pop quiz, go back and find the camera in this years card. No photoshop here. ;)
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