Capturing Life by Neyssa Lee » Capturing your family & teaching moms how to capture everyday moments

2014 Holiday Photo Contest is Coming

Gather your favorite holiday photo because the 2014 Holiday Photo Contest is coming! Last year’s was a hit.  I loved seeing the photos that all of you were taking. So I’m doing it again. But I wanted to give you a heads up, so you can start thinking about which of the many (come on, you know you’ll take lots this holiday season) you will want to enter! Or maybe it will encourage you to try out Monday’s photo tips on How to photograph the magic of Christmas lights.

2014 holiday photo contest is coming, toddler with christmas tree

What’s at stake? How about a $25 Neyssa Lee Photography Studio Credit (good towards that workshop you’re dying to take, or a spring family session?) and a copy of Me Ra Koh’s newest book Your Family in Pictures (chalked full of even more photo tips and inspiration for capturing your family)?

Watch the Facebook and the blog after Christmas for entry deadlines and your chance to vote for your favorite images!

*Neyssa

P.S. Find that you’ve only taken photos this season with your smart phone because you’re not getting the results you want with your DSLR? Tell your husband what you really want for Christmas this year…a spot in my January 2015 Photography Workshop! Your photos will never be the same afterwards.

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How to Photograph the Magic of the Christmas Tree

To help you get into the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to do a photo recipe on how to photograph the magic of the Christmas tree! These short days make using natural light tricky. That’s why I love these photo tips, I took them all at 7:30 at night – without any natural light!

This past weekend we did a few of my favorite holiday traditions. We wrapped the first Christmas gifts, baked my favorite cookie (the chocolate crinkle cookie), and listened to holiday music! With a tree with presents I thought it was the perfect time to capture the kids with the tree. Milo decided he’d rather stay in the bath than participate but Sawyer was excited to get to play with the tree.

SET UP: Set up here is key. Before enlisting Sawyer, I turned off the rest of the lights in the house so that just the Christmas tree was on. I also had Sawyer in some festive jammies (a pair Milo wore two years ago, so even more special for us) and had presents under the tree to add a little extra to my images.
how to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas tree

CAMERA SETTINGS: Using  my 35mm lens – which is my widest lens so that I could capture the entire tree, I started by setting my ISO to 4000. Some of your cameras may not go that high, but you’ll want to set your ISO as high as possible. Then I set my aperture to f/1.6 to help me get the most light possible and allowed for a little extra blur of the tree when focusing on just Sawyer. Finally, I set my Shutter Speed to 200. If you have a young child you know that you’ll need a higher setting to freeze their action. If you’re kids are older, you can probably get away with a little slower speed.

COMPOSITION: I knew that I wanted to have a shot of her with the entire tree, so I started by asking her to show me where the star was. I framed vertically to include the entire tree with her standing pretty much in front of it. Then I just captured her while asking her to find different things. (Sawyer, where is the owl? Where is the coffee cup?) While I kept her engaged, I shot different angles. Try with the kids on the side of the tree and it lighting their faces, or with them between you and the tree so they are more of a silhouette. In all of my images I focused on Sawyer.

how to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas treeDon’t be afraid to crop out part of the tree. This next image is my favorite from the evening, as I think it captures the magic of the tree best. What do you think?how to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas treehow to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas treehow to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas treeSawyer brought me several ornaments off the tree. They aren’t usually allowed to actually touch them (or at least not to take them off the tree), so she was pretty excited mommy was letting her get away with it!how to photograph the magic of the christmas tree, kids and christmas tree

Now it’s your turn to use this how to photograph the magic of the Christmas Tree photo recipe. I want to see what you’ve captured! Stay tuned, and start photographing your holidays as I will be hosting the 2nd annual Holiday Photo contest next week!

*Neyssa*

P.S. Understanding how to use your DSLR is the first step to taking better photos. Join me, January 31st for a fun, and relaxed Photography Workshop for Moms. Spots are limited so sign up now!

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