Christmas

Twinkle Light Parade 2018 Albuquerque New Mexico

Twinkle Light Parade 2018 Albuquerque New Mexico

Darth Vader and Rudolph in the same parade!

My second time photographing the annual Twinkle Light Parade in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Various types of vehicles adorned in a variety of twinkling Christmas lights slowly drive down Route 66 (aka Central Ave) to the delight of thousands of on-lookers. The usual favorites like Rudolph and The Grinch are always present, along with some twists like Mr. Potato Head and Darth Vader!

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Christmas Card Portraits Treasure Island Florida Three Sisters

Holiday photo card portrait with three sisters wrapped in Christmas lights - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/5.6 ISO 100 2.5 sec tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 in 43" brolly frame rightLong time DSLR photography student Stacy invited me to her home to photograph her daughters for their family Christmas card.  She said I could bring Kiki along as well (more about this below).  This was an unusual shoot as Stacy worked with me to learn how to make portraits and I used much of her own photography gear (note the use of a Nikon D4 for all these shots!).  I had shown her my wedding couple wrapped in Christmas lights shot before, which we did with the three sisters for the above image.  

Christmas Photo Card portrait three sisters in front of their Christmas Tree - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70m @ f/4 ISO 100 1/200th - Strobist: SB-900 to frame right in 43" brollyWhen editing this black & white image I wanted mainly the lights of the tree to be visible in the background framing the girls.

Smiling in front of Christmas tree bokeh for holiday portrait in Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 70-200mm with 2x teleconverter @ f/5.6 ISO 6400 1/60th - natural lightUsing the new 2x teleconverter Stacy recently got, I took advantage of an effective 400mm focal length to create extreme bokeh in the background of the above shot of the same Christmas tree lights used in the B&W shot.  

Holiday Photo Card Portrait before the fireplace in Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/6.3 ISO 100 1/4th tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-900 to frame rightA more formal shot before the lit fireplace, which made things pretty hot for the girls, but throughout our shoot they were great and knew how to get into proper positions unprompted!  It was like working with professional models!

In all the shots Kiki was lying near the girls! It was my first time to bring her on a portrait shoot. Now when I try to photograph Kiki she is never happy about it and ends up looking like a sad puppy (see here).  However, she was all too willing to get into every photo with the girls and smile!  For the piano shot we let a sleeping dog lie and framed the portrait around her.  She just wanted to participate and be involved!

It was a fun shoot and a chance for me to try a few new things shooting inside someone's home, as I most often shoot outside on location.  I look forward to seeing the photos in print on Stacy's family Christmas card!

Photography Tip use Christmas lights for portrait lighting

In December (and even November) holiday and Christmas lights begin showing up hanging from trees, houses and windows.  Another use for Christmas lights is as portrait lighting.  As seen in the above example, I wrapped a string of Christmas lights around a couple from head to toe (but not over their faces) and also the mantle of the fireplace.  I used no speedlights and there was only the dimmest of ambient light coming into the living room.  In order to get enough exposure I used a shutter speed of 0.8 seconds with my camera tripod mounted.  I asked the couple to stand as perfectly still as possible as small movement would create blur with that long of an exposure.  

Portrait using Christmas lights for creative lighting - Nikon D300 tripod mounted with Tamron 17-50mm lens @ f/5.6 ISO 200 0.8 secSo for creative portrait lighting, try using Christmas lights.  Be sure and put a link to your photos in the comments below!

Free Christmas Tree Ornament Bokeh Background

Free Christmas tree ornament bokeh background - click to download the full resolution versionJason Collin Photography is offering a free Christmas tree ornament bokeh background to use as a digital background for composite images, as a texture to overlay or simply as a desktop wallpaper.  Click the above image to download the full resolution version.

The above portrait was made outside.  I simply cut out the subject and placed her upon the Christmas tree ornament bokeh background to add a festive holiday look to the photo.  Tell us how you used the background in the comments below.

St. Petersburg Snell Isle Christmas Wedding

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 200 0.8s tripod mounted with cable releaseIt is always nice when you have the chance to photograph the wedding of someone you know, even if it is just tangentially.  For this Christmas wedding (day after actually) I had the shortest commute I think I will every have, literally just two minutes as it took place at a neighbor's* home here in Snell Isle, St. Petersburg.  I know the neighbor from the local dog park.  Our dogs have been fast friends since they were 4-month old puppies.  I met the bride-to-be at the dog park as well the week before the wedding as she and her fiance traveled down to Florida with their own dog.

Macro shots with Nikon D300 & Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR micro lensDue to my familiarity with all involved I had zero nerves before going to photograph this wedding.  Plus, I had done all due preparation by visiting their house and seeing exactly where the ceremony would take place and on the wedding day there was ample time to photograph the rings, wedding dress, etc before the actual ceremony.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/80th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mounted in TTL modeAs you can see, there were water hazards involved in photographing the wedding ceremony!  Though I had to be very careful with my steps, this island setting allowed for clean views from all sides of the couple during the ceremony.  No human, dog or camera gear fell into the pool thankfully!

Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 400 1/200th natural lightThe atmosphere the entire afternoon was very lighthearted and full of laughter, even during the ceremony.  This further contributed to my lack of nervousness the entire wedding and made it just plain really fun to be a part of, even though I was working and my usual focused self while shooting.  

Nikon D80 Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D @ f/2.8 ISO 400 1/200th natural lightThere were surprises during the wedding ceremony as the groom gave his bride a ring she had never seen before.  I was told later that it had significant meaning.  Before the smiles you see above there were hugs and tears at the sight of the ring. 

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/80th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mounted (straight up) in TTL modeAfter the ceremony the carefully selected wedding guests and family members got together for a formal portrait in the living room, though the laughs that first broke out during the wedding ceremony carried over to the formals as well, which was fine by me.  

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 320 1/50th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mounted in TTL modeThen the newlyweds and I were off for some outdoor shots on a very, very cold winter day.  I fear warm winters for west central Florida are now a thing of the past, and daytime temperatures in the 50s will have to be tolerated, or one must move to Key Largo.  I had the benefit of wearing my unfailing Mountain Hard Wear Windstopper Tech Jacket, and the groom at least had on his suit jacket, so the bride was the bravest of all showing no sign of freezing despite wearing a wispy wedding dress.  I worked as fast as I could to get the shots I wanted to at the gazebo in front of the Vinoy Country Club golf course, a location I had always wanted to photograph at.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/5.6 ISO 320 1/50th Nikon SB-800 Speedlight hotshoe mounted in TTL modeFrom there we went to the waterfront near a famous (for Snell Isle residents) white bridge.  As twilight took over the area, the temps dropped even more, so I was very glad to hear the couple say they had actually practiced "the dip," a skill for sure that I recommend all future couples practice before the day of their wedding.

Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 @ f/4 ISO 800 1/40th Strobist: SB-800 handheld "quick & dirty" styleThis was the very last shot I took of the entire day.  It was an extremely satisfying experience from a photography standpoint as I got to try many different shots I never had before.  This was as enjoyable as photographing a wedding gets.  Thank you to the bride & groom for their super cooperation and toughness, and for my neighbors hiring me to photograph their daughter's wedding.  See you all at the dog park!

--More from this wedding coming soon: bride series, black & white wedding 

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    *names not mentioned for privacy 

    Photo Story: Christmas Sunrise over Cape Coral Florida

    I got up just in time to capture the last bit of sunshine of the Christmas morning sunrise in Cape Coral, Florida.

    I saw at least four weather forecasts declaring that Christmas Day was going to be an on and off rainy day in Cape Coral.  I did not expect there to be fleeting dawn light with the sunrise.  I hustled out of my mom's condo with the Nikon D300 in tow and raced to a secret high spot.  Anyone that knows Cape Coral might have a hard time believing this sunrise photograph was made there because Cape Coral is largely a desert-like landscape of poor land made dry by hundreds of canals.  

    I was about 10 minutes late from making an actual sunrise photograph of quality.  By the time I clamored up to the top of this viewpoint, there was no more golden orange light reflecting off the clouds, nothing warming the tops of the trees.  

    This should be a lesson for me and others:  real photographers do not let semi-incompetent weathermen dictate when they shoot.  I should have at least had my gear prepared and popped my head out the window 45 minutes before sunrise just in case shooting conditions were good.  Another photographer's rule to apply to this situation is that you can never wake up too early to go shooting!