Red Cloud Blog

Photograph Your Own Christmas Card! Our Top Tips!

Tue, 06 Nov 2012 15:43:48 +0000

There are SO many different cards on the market these days… we can even get personalised cards from sites like MoonPig and Hallmark… yet some how, we often end up with 3 of the same one!

If you want to send a truly unique and personal card this year – grab your left over sparklers from Bonfire Night and your tripod (and maybe a friend) – we’ve got some great ideas for you.

1. The Spinning Christmas Tree

This is a great effect – the room is still, yet the tree has come to life!

Rotating the tree! Great fun!

How to get this effect: 

Ok… first – remove clutter and reflective objects that are nearby – mirrors, presents etc. Whilst gifts are Christmassy, they get in the way for this! If you can, set up the tree on a large board or if it’s a real tree, make sure your pot slides easily. You need a slow, smooth rotating action for this to work.

Now, set up the camera in the room on a tripod or table, with all the lights off except for the tree. You’ll need to be able to crouch behind the tree too.

Set the camera to manual. Get the shot framed in the view finder. Set your aperture to the lowest possible setting, and set your shutter speed to around 1 min 30 secs or if you have a remote control and bulb setting, use that. Set your ISO to 100 and your WB to Auto.

Use a dark cloth and cover the lens. Check in your view finder there is no light creeping in.

(Here’s where its sometimes good to have a friend nearby!!)

Push the shutter button get between the camera and the tree. Remove the cloth and get behind the tree. Slowly start to rotate the tree. Remember – you have a minute and a half – no need to rush.

once you’ve gone round about half a rotation, stop,  grab your cloth and move quickly back behind the camera, replace the cloth and leave until the shutter speed has finished – or turn off the shutter.

You’ll end up with a tree that looks like it’s moving!

Set up near a landmark in your city and paint the tree with a sparkler.

Spin around and lower your arm from over your head to your feet to get this effect.

2. The Sparkler Tree

A great way to use those left over sparklers from November 5th and have fun with your camera!

How to get this effect: You’ll need a friend, sparklers, a reliable lighter (we prefer candles), a cloth and a dark outside space. 

Again, set your camera to manual on a tripod, with the lowest aperture and ISO possible, shutter speed to 1 minute 30 seconds, or bulb with a remote and white balance to Auto.

If you want to achieve the “star” on top of the tree, like in the picture below, this is where your friend and the cloth come into their own. As above, remove the cloth once you’re set and the sparkler is lit. Draw the star and then shout or signal you’ve drawn the star, cover the lens for about 10 seconds. Move the sparkler to the next point, remove the cloth and zig zag down.

Once you’re done drawing, cover the lens again, or release the shutter on the remote. By placing a cloth over the lens, it means you get more crisp lines and remove ghosting of the person drawing the tree.

How to write with light:

To achieve this, you’ll need a very dark room and a pen style torch.As with the other instructions, set your camera to a low ISO, a low aperture and a long shutter speed or bulb.

When using a torch, it’s more simple – once you’ve written the letter or word, just turn it off and begin the next word! that way all the letters will be clear.

If you want to learn more before setting out with your sparklers, book a Red Cloud Days Night Photography Course. 


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Filed under Night Photography, Photography Tip's & How -To's, Project Ideas, Uncategorized

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