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The last couple of months I have been out in the garage trying to get Christmas lights bokeh in the background of shots I am taking of the dogs. This combined with the fact that I am also trying to use Off Camera Flash to really light the dogs has been a trial. I thought I had some winners until Nancy told me I didn't :) And that is not a criticism at all, because many times we can't see the whole picture, but just our dogs! I so appreciate honest critiquing. Here are a couple of shots I tried to do all in one shot...with OCF and lights. These could MUCH better, but gave me a starting point.

This was taken with my 100 mm lens. F 3.2, ISO 800, 1/125, Flash did fire

Lens 24-70, F 3.2, 1/50, ISO 500 Flash Fired

Nancy suggested I shoot the background separately from the dogs and merge the two photos, which is what I did here. I did this under protest as I am still sure it can all be done in camera :)

So, I think it would be fun for all of us to try some Holiday lights photos while we have lights all around us. 

Here is some great information I found on how to go about doing these kinds of shots with flash. He explains it much better than I can. 

https://photographylife.com/indoor-portraits-with-a-christmas-tree-...

Here are most of the points he made....Flash should be on TTL, Use a tripod, Slow shutter speed, and widest aperture you can do. 

and just a few tutorials. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYhR3F_8YM0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKEQugIXfGE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPcdWxhLwoA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0G7sk61obs

I like the third video, because it shows you can do this assignment without flash. Post your pictures here and tell us what you did and how you did it. We can all help each other learn by doing it together. 

Nancy also had these good points: 

One note, mentioned in one of the videos, is that if your holiday lights are LED, you may have flicker issues unless you shutterspeed is 1/60 or slower. In your pictures it will look like random lights are off. (Speaking from personal experience).

And this ties perfectly as a follow up to last month's lesson about depth of field. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

it can all be done in camera!  If you want the big circles you need a lot of space. 

Update: Here is another good video that talks about light fall off sent to me by Nancy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO-J42VM448




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Replies to This Discussion

The settings for iso and shutter speed are really dependent on your lights but it seems a little off to me. I could be wrong.

LOL...I am sure it is me who is wrong :) I was messing around with my settings a lot, so who knows how I came up with these settings.

I really like this approach and perhaps this weekend I can try it out!

Here are my 2 to add to the set.

done at f 2/ f2.2. iso 200 1/50 85mm.

I was thinking about this idea for a christmas card but ended up going a different direction. My house is SO small. It almost qualifies as a tiny house. I just can't get enough distance. The christmas lights are at the far end by the front door in the living room, and me in the hallway.

Probably 10 ft from the lights to Georgia, and 5-7 ft from Georgia to me. Georgia's position and the lights didn't move in either of these photos. The only change was my distance to Georgia.

One thing is clear. The closer you get to your subject the bigger the blurry lights in the background, even with the same lens. Again, it totally ties into last month's lesson...

She was not a happy camper. She is such a joyful dog normally. But ask her to sit for a photo, and i get the death look. I even have fresh rotisserie chicken I'm holding as hostage. 

These are great, Nancy! Yes, Georgia does not look happy. Don't our dogs know this is a happy time of year? If I had chicken, my dogs would be jumping at the camera.

She obeys really well. She almost goes into to the spot without even asking. 

I have chicken and cheese and I make sure she is hungry. I have squeaky toys and noise makers that seldom cause a reaction. I know I have to call it quits when I put the cheese in front of her and she turns her head away. She's a really great dog, but does not like posing for the camera. That's why all of my good shots of her are actions shots. 

I love the lighting.  Did you use flash and if so what was the set up?  Georgia is adorable, even grumpy.

I have a huge amount of lighting equipment. Not just a simple flash. So I'm not sure explaining my personal setup would be helpful. But I'm sure it can be done with less. The main thing I have learned over time is to have the light source as large and soft as possible near your subject. If you have an external flash that you can mount to your camera, the easiest thing would be to point it backwards into a white bedsheet or white wall.

Thanks.  I don't have flash stuff and so I will need to play with lamps and flashlights.

These are really nice.

A failure to cooperate.  Laurie, Chance hates this lesson, LOL.  I've put a few up and then taken them down because they have all been horrible.  At least this one is cute with Chance pouting, even though he is crooked against the bokeh backdrop.

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