To light paint, you need a tripod and a small flashlight; a locking cable release also will help. Find a scene that looks interesting—maybe a holiday wreath on your front door. Set up your tripod and camera, turn off the outside lights and you’re ready to go. Use your small flashlight to illuminate certain parts of the wreath, like an ornament or red bow. The trick with light painting is that you don’t want to illuminate the entire scene, only areas to which you want to direct the viewer’s attention. Also try light painting at perpendicular angles to your subject. This produces side lighting and looks more interesting than direct frontal light.
To take your light painting to the next level, try adding color to your light by placing a colored gel over the front. Rosco makes sets of gels that work perfectly for light painting.
9. Create a photo essay of your holiday. When I teach photo workshops, I often see participants creating nice images, but they don’t know where to go from the standalone shot. A great solution to this dilemma is creating a photo essay of your holiday gathering or vacation.
Photo essays require taking a journalistic storytelling approach to your photography. Not only are you going to shoot the holiday portrait and scenic landscape, but you’re also going to photograph the turkey cooking in the oven, dad sleeping on the couch, boots thawing out, the fire burning in the fireplace—anything is fair game.
Why try this journalistic approach? Because it fosters creativity and encourages you to try new things. You’ll find scenes you would have never photographed before, and you may try new shooting angles and perspectives to photograph these scenes. Now your blinders are off, and all those household items you’ve seen for years take on a new meaning. Remember this quote by Monet: “In order to see, we must forget the name of everything. By labeling we recognize everything, but no longer see anything.”
10. Make a holiday book. Now that you‘ve created this amazing photo essay of your holiday, what are you going to do with all these holiday images? Don’t just put them in a photo album that will be stacked on a bookshelf somewhere; try making a coffee-table book that you can share with everyone.
Creating your own photo book is easy to do. There are a variety of options, from inexpensive small paperback books to fancy hardcover coffee-table books. There are many online services that offer a variety of book styles and prices. Better yet, these online publishers have simple templates to use in designing your book. Once you have your images ready, it takes less than an hour to create a quality book. Make multiple copies and share with other family members.
As the holiday season comes upon us this year, start charging your camera batteries and clearing your memory cards. The holidays are a perfect time to try new photo techniques with your camera!
Tom Bol is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer based in Colorado. You can see more of his photography at www.tombolphoto.com.
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