Here we are, the Holiday Season and the second to last PhotoChallenge of 2015. As this year comes to an end we’re ramping up a new formula for next year that will bump up member participation and emphasize IMAGE QUALITY!

IMAGE QUALITY : The goal of the challenge is not to take a 2 second snapshot but to create a photograph based on a given theme. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I find that things are going just too quickly. Fewer and fewer people take the time to stop, admire, plan their shot and then make the magic happen…

I’m one to almost always carry a tripod. Best have a small lightweight tripod you will use than a boat anchor you’ll leave at home. There’s various reasons for that. Stability is one, and believe it or not it makes a difference on High Megapixel Cameras in the best of circumstances. My main use for a tripod when not shooting wildlife is it gives me time to think and then execute.

I may choose to use one or more of many filters and techniques that demand I take my time and take several images under different settings. I’m not collecting a travel photo mementos, I’m creating a photograph.

This week’s theme is going to focus on the image quality of the Challenge with the Theme being the guidelines for your final image which will be an eye pleasing HOLIDAY CARD. It can be aligned with your faith such as a Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa card, a simple generic Holiday Card or even a Happy New Year Card. A simple PEACE on Earth Card will do just fine. Think of yourself as a commercial photographer creating a card for your public so you can earn a living.

Here’s what I chose to do this year. It was mainly aimed at being a Facebook cover so the alignment of the text frees up the profile image space…. A basic generic Season’s Greetings for my fan-base!

Steve Troletti Photography Holiday Card

This PhotoChallenge will emphasize the initial photo but we still want to see it put together in an attractive eye pleasing card. My image doesn’t scream Christmas, but it is inspired by the following lyrics, “…Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh, Hey!” from Jingle Bells. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do get in the festive mood during the holiday Season.

To get this image, I didn’t click and leave….  I chose the best location as we’re not in the middle of a forest but in the middle of one of the largest metropolitan areas in Canada. I carefully chose my location to avoid buildings and other man made structures that would take away from the overall character of the image.

Once the location was carefully chosen, I had but a couple horse and sleigh combinations that interested me. I practiced at every pass with every sleigh that passed by and adjusted my position. I was sitting in the snow, camera but a foot off the ground. It took many tries to get the elements I wanted in place. The horse is at the right distance looking at me with snow flying off its hoofs. (Had to throw loose snow on the trail after every horse) The overall angle and lens combination gave me the depth and dimension I wanted. I had to try a couple different lens / angle combinations. Considering each horse passed by once every 20 minutes or so, I invested several hours. My favorite part, both the Horse and the Coachman are wearing Bowler Hats…

Steve Troletti Photography: Winter Festivals / Festivals d'hiver &emdash; Horse-drawn sleighride / Promenade en traîneau à cheval (Fête des neiges de Montréal)

Let’s Focus on your Photo Challenge:

Produce an Image to be used as part of a greeting card that represents the Holiday Season. Since this is outdoor photography, it needs to be taken outdoors. Apply what you have learned this past year. You may choose to do a Nigh-Time HDR or a long exposure. Maybe even both. We’ve played with Infrared and you would be surprised what Holiday decorations can look like under infrared light on a bright sunny day. The technique is for you to choose. As the photographer, you will be creating the image and using the technique that will be the best suited to bring your final image to life.

Plan your shoot. Take your time and study your scene. Compositions is very important. Follow the rule of thirds or break it in an interesting way. Don’t just center your subject smack in the middle unless it’s absolutely necessary. Take the time to test different settings. Play with speed and depth of field.

Image quality has very little to do with your camera. The rules remain the same whether you’re using a DSLR or your Smartphone. If you need a tripod, both can be securely attached to one. Lenses and filters are available for all types of cameras. You should deliver a well exposed and well balanced image. No special effects are necessary, it’s all up to you.

Once you’ve produced your image, assemble it in a simple eye flattering greeting card. The design is entirely up to you. It can be simple text as it can be a complex arrangement of clip-art, words and images.

Here are a few Creative Commons Licensed examples I found on Flickr:
Holiday Greetings//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Happy New Year 2007!//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Happy NewYear to all my Flickr Buddies//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Day 359 / 365 - Season's Greetings holiday pic


Wishing you all a great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. Don’t miss Trevor’s Year end post next week as you will be learning more about next year’s changes at Photochallenge.org.


The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org or #photochallenge2015.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • The posted image should be a photograph, not a video.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2015 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.