A Note From Autumn
I’ve had a hard time in years past getting a great picture of my Christmas tree. I’ve tried a few different approaches and haven’t been really pleased, until I found instructions for taking this cool out-of-focus-lights shot. I got this idea from a thread on the photography board at twopeasinabucket.com. I can’t remember who posted the original instructions (sorry!) so just be grateful to the helpful people over there. Oh—and it looks even cooler with colored lights. Here’s how to get this look using your DSLR:
- Wait until evening, especially if your tree is near a window. You don’t want extra light in the picture.
- Use a lens with a low aperture setting (I used a 50mm 1.8 lens), put the camera on AV setting, and set the aperture as low as it can go. If you don’t have a low aperture lens, it’s a little harder to get this effect, but it can be done. Stand as far away from the tree as you can and zoom in until the tree (or just the top portion of the tree) fills up the entire picture. The farther your lens is zoomed, the more out of focus you’ll be able to get the picture (out of focus = bigger circles of light).
- Compose your shot and press your shutter button halfway down to focus. Then find the little button on your lens that says AF and MF, and change it to MF, which is manual focus.
- Find your manual focus ring and start turning it one way or the other to get the picture out of focus. As the picture gets farther and farther out of focus, the tree lights will turn into larger and larger circles. Snap a number of pictures, turning the focus ring a little more for each one. Your shutter speed is going to be quite slow, so be sure to brace yourself as you snap away. (Don’t worry about a tripod - a little camera shake isn’t going to matter much since the picture is out of focus anyway.)
- Choose your favorite shot, and if desired, used Photoshop Elements to brighten the picture and add “Merry Christmas” using the free font New Romantics from dafont.com.