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12.20.2013

’Tis the season to be jolly…and to have some fun with your holiday photography!

Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

After a recent snow storm, I grabbed my camera and headed into my front yard to photograph our family’s outdoor Christmas tree. After taking a few standard shots of the snow covered tree, I decided to have a little fun. I thought, “Why not create a holiday theme and variation of our outdoor spectacle?”

My initial shot was taken from my Gitzo tripod with a cable release. I made sure not to burn the lights out, aiming to have some of the snow covered branches glisten in the red, yellow, blue, green, red, and pink glow of the LED bulbs.

Defocusing produces interesting results, such as the bulb-like shapes of the LED lights. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Defocusing produces interesting results, such as the bulb-like shapes of the LED lights. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Next I decided to play around. One fun way to make variations on small points of light is to defocus the image during exposure. This simply involves turning the focus ring from in focus to out of focus. You can control the effect by how long you keep the exposure in focus and how far you turn it out of focus.

Zooming during exposure creates an effect that looks like fireworks. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Zooming during exposure creates an effect that looks like fireworks. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Another interesting thing to do during long exposures is to zoom. In this case I slowly zoom from 70mm back toward 24mm. The result is a firework effect, with lines radiating from the center of the image.

A variation on zooming during exposure is shaking the camera during the zoom. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

A variation on zooming during exposure is shaking the camera during the zoom. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

A way to change the look of zooming during exposure is to vibrate the camera while zooming. This produces an interesting jiggly line effect, much like the look of a firework that spirals out from the center after the explosion.

Try moving the camera during exposure, such as rotating the tripod head. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Try moving the camera during exposure, such as rotating the tripod head. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

And try this: during long exposures, rotate the tripod head. In this case I let camera sit motionless for about half the exposure to record the tree and then started turning the tripod head. The dotted line effect is due to the frequency at which LED bulbs emit their light. Some of the lights on this tree appear to blink at a fairly slow rate.

Try all kinds of things. Here I zoomed and then shook the camera all over. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 1 second, ISO 1600. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Try all kinds of things. Here I zoomed and then shook the camera all over. Nikon D800E. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM lens. F/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100. Gitzo GT2451EX Tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR head. Cable release. Processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5. Photo copyright David FitzSimmons 2013. All rights reserved.

Finally, try combining effects. Here I zoomed and really moved the camera around. This is my favorite effect. Which is yours?

Of course, these are just some of the countless approaches to changing your images during exposure. If you have some festive lights in your yard or nearby, take whirl at creating your own seasonal images full of interesting, innovative variations.

Happy holidays!

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