digital art

Creative Captures for Christmas

This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. A beautiful and expansive place filled with formal gardens, signature trees, dancing water fountains, a botanical conservatory and sweeping meadows. Built by Pierre S. du Pont, Longwood has grown to nearly 1,00 acres and was initially designed to be a party place for his dear friends and family.

Planned well ahead, the Longwood today employs over 1,300 people and has a yearly budget of over $50 million dollars. With a strong team of staff and volunteers, the gardens are incredibly decorated during the holidays and in the evenings the gardens burst with color, sounds and sensations with the countless lights and decorated trees throughout.

There is one water fountain area they keep running in the freezing temperatures and run a musically timed water show every five minutes. Singing along with Christmas Carols, the water movement begged for Slow Exposures. Bringing a tripod and the 24-104mm lens, I used Aperture Priority so I wouldn’t have to fumble for settings in the dark. Using a low ISO, I tried both f/6.3, and then f/16 to have varying depth of field and smoothing of the waterfalls. The one with a longer exposure ended up being the one I liked the best.

Walking through the woodland area with the tree trunks decorated with lights, they begged for Zoom Blurs. This time I chose both f/8, and f/11 and a low ISO at Aperture Priority. First zooming tight with the lens, I locked in focus and when the camera exposed the image I would zoom out the lens. Movement can vary with speed and depth of the zoom for personal preference.

People dream about Dreamy Bokeh and with holiday lights, there is nothing more fun than to intentional take them out of focus to create wonderful colorful orbs. Selecting a mid-range f/stop and low ISO I placed the lens on manual focus and tried a variety of out-of-focus images at different points and found this one to be pleasing to me.

But the fun in the garden was far from being done. Slow Exposures, Zoom Blurs, Dreamy Bokeh, What could possibly be next? Let’s try some Intentional Camera Movement. This takes a bit of practice and many tries before an image comes out that you might like. On Manual Mode, I selected 1/6 of a second, f/9.0 and ISO 200 for proper exposure. One can also go onto Time Value or Shutter Priority and let the camera chose the f/stop for exposure. Then the camera movement can be the artist’s choice. Whether it be Up and down, Right or Left, Shivers, Shakes or S-curves, the creativity is endless.

With white tree branches and red berries it was perfect to design them like Candy Canes.

And at last, since I was experimenting and trying different things than the usual, some cameras offer a multiple exposure/overlay option within the camera system (Check your camera manual.) The Canon 5D Mark IV allows you to chose how many images are taken for the multiple exposure and then in the live-view mode you can see how the next image stacks on top of the previous one(s).

For this image I chose to take just two images and stacked two images of different sections of the tree to create the final image.

Click Here for Nikon Instructions.

Click Here for Olympus directions. or Page 95 of the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II camera manual.

I felt like I was a kid on Christmas morning opening up all sorts of new presents by having fun with the camera. Sometimes breaking the rules is tons of fun. Would love to see what you can create this holiday season.

15 replies »

  1. Beautiful photos – thank you for sharing the great tips, too. A fellow blogger recommended your blog since I enjoy playing with my camera settings too, she thought I might enjoy your tips. I’m thankful for her sharing the link. Happy clicking to you!

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