WEEK 51: Creative Holiday Lights – 2017 Trevor Carpenter Photochallenge

It’s time to get creative and have fun! Holiday lights present the perfect opportunity to play with new techniques. You might be surprised at the results! If you used holiday lights as your subject for last week’s challenge, I encourage you to try a different technique, but there aren’t really any “rules” this week. The primary goal is to have fun.

Christmas Nebula

Christmas Nebula by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (13 second exposure on tripod: 4 seconds in focus, then focus ring rotated a quarter turn every 2 seconds)

Focus Blur Technique (long exposure) – This was my initial inspiration for this challenge. Basically you turn the focus ring of your lens (not the zoom ring) while the shutter is open. In the case of the photo above, I turned the focus ring in steps, i.e. turn a little, pause, turn a little, pause, etc. I wasn’t able to find many examples using this technique until I discovered a Flickr group dedicated to using it on fireworks. Same technique, different subject. Click here for details.

Holiday Gazing Balls by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Holiday Gazing Balls by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (2.5 second exposure on tripod, wait 1 second after pressing shutter, then rotate focus ring smoothly during remainder of exposure)

After playing with this technique for a couple of weeks, I’ve discovered that your results will vary greatly depending on the lens that you use. My 100mm macro lens creates a very cool “zoom” effect even though there is no zoom on the lens! However, my 150-600mm lens doesn’t create any sort of zoom effect. If that’s the case for your lens, you can try combining it with Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) at the same time as you turn the focus ring. (Think of it as another chance to play with last week’s challenge technique.) That’s how I created the image below:

Skip to My Lou by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Skip to My Lou by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (0.5 second exposure handheld with ICM and focus ring rotation; the dotted lines are caused by the flicker of LED lights)

Zoom+ (long exposure) – I’ve added the “+” because while zooming during a long exposure is fun, it is fairly predictable. I find it to be more creative and combined with other techniques. For example, simply using a “step motion” when rotating the zoom instead of a smooth motion will create larger sparkles of light periodically along the zoom lines. If you have a long enough exposure (say 5 seconds), then you can rotate the zoom ring a little, wait 1 second, rotate it a little more, wait 1 second, and continue that way until the shutter closes. You can also play with rotating the focus ring at the same time as the zoom ring, which is how I created the image below:

O Christmas Tree by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

O Christmas Tree by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (4 second exposure on tripod: wait 1 second, then rotate both focus ring and zoom ring for 2 seconds, then pause for 1 second before shutter closes)

Classic Bokeh Lights – There’s a good chance you already know this technique, but just in case you haven’t tried it yet I wanted to mention it. The basic technique is to use a large aperture and set the focus to blur the lights into round circles. You can have a subject in front or behind the lights – or have no subject at all to create an abstract image. The choice is yours. For more details and examples:
2013 WEEK 51: Bokeh
2016 WEEK 48: Bokeh – Guest Challenge
How to Take Beautiful Bokeh Christmas Images

2016 WEEK 48: BOKEH by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

2016 WEEK 48: BOKEH by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Bokeh Shapes – If you want to get a bit more creative with your bokeh lights, consider making DIY bokeh filters. These turn out-of-focus lights (which are typically circles) into whatever shape is cut out of the bokeh filter. For details on this technique:
How to Make Fun Bokeh Shapes with a Custom DIY Lens Filter
DIY Bokeh Lens Filters – How to Make Bokeh Filter of Different Shapes

I Heart Christmas

I Heart Christmas by Pete

Multiple Exposures – Already familiar with the above techniques? It’s time to try multiple exposures! You can combine any of the above techniques into multiple exposure images. A couple of  combinations that I came up with:

Bokeh Explosion by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Bokeh Explosion by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (Multiple exposure on tripod: 1. Classic Bokeh and 2. Stepped Zoom during 2 second exposure)

Bokeh Explosion 2 by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Bokeh Explosion 2 by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (Multiple exposure: 1. Classic Bokeh and 2. Smooth Zoom with ICM during 2 second exposure; the dotted lines are caused by the flicker of LED lights)

Also, feel free to combine any of the above techniques while the shutter is open:

Stars of Bokeh by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Stars of Bokeh by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (2.5 second exposure on tripod with a combination of Bokeh Shapes and smooth Focus Blur)

Bokeh ICM by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Bokeh ICM by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero (1.6 second exposure handheld with a combination of Bokeh Shapes, ICM and smooth Focus Blur)

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge and #photochallenge2017
  • 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.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2017 PhotoChallenge is fun and easy.

 

 

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About thedigitaljeanie

I’m a self-taught photographer and way back when I used to love taking photos, but I allowed a business that I started in 2004 to take over my life and my photographic repertoire was reduced to quick product shots and how-to tutorials. When I joined the PhotoChallenge in December 2015, I was looking to rekindle my creativity and bring some joy back into my photography. I jumped in with both feet and have not looked back. I believe that photography can change the way we see and interact with the world around us. Some people may think that I hide behind the camera, but I feel that I experience the world in a much more intimate way when I am creating a composition in my viewfinder. In those moments distractions disappear, my mind focuses and I am fully present. It is just me and my camera capturing a moment in time that might otherwise go unnoticed. My background is as varied as the photos that I take. I’ve trained and worked as a software engineer, a massage therapist, an English teacher in Vietnam, a photo restoration artist (which is how I learned Photoshop) and for the past twelve years I have run a small software business with my husband where I have been published in numerous books and magazines, appeared on PBS television, created designs for fabric, quilts and machine embroidery and won awards for some of my quilts. It should come as no surprise that I am intensely curious about life and love to learn new things. I am blessed to live in the beautiful state of Colorado, USA in the Rocky Mountain foothills outside of Fort Collins with my husband and cat. You can find me online at: Photos: flickr.com/photos/the-digital-jeanie/ Day job: KaleidoscopeCollections.com Facebook: facebook.com/jeaniesa

One Reply to “WEEK 51: Creative Holiday Lights – 2017 Trevor Carpenter Photochallenge”

  1. Pingback: Snowman – Une photo, un poème

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