It’s hard to believe my last blog post featured Halloween light paintings. I admit this weak Los Angeles winter kills my motivation to paint the night. Those of you who live in colder climates likely feel the same way. Low temperatures may keep you inside this time of year, but you can still have fun experimenting with long exposures indoors.
Do you have a Christmas tree set up inside your house? Great! Try photographing it at different shutter speeds. Ditch the tripod and incorporate movement to create complex images. You don’t have to do anything fancy. Last year I shot this colorful semi-psychedelic picture just by pointing my DSLR camera at our modest Christmas tree and slowly walking away from it:
You may have seen pictures of Christmas trees with an interesting spiral pattern. There are a few ways to achieve this effect.
#1) Keep your camera stationary and zoom in/out with your lens.
#2) Rotate the camera body with your lens in a stable position
#3) Turn your body and lens in opposite directions in a snapping motion.
I recommend trying all 3 of these methods because you’ll get unique results from each form of light bending. If you’re feeling brave you can try the same exercises on the decorated houses in your neighborhood.
Christmas Tree Long Exposure Photos
I plan to shoot our tree again as well as Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills (a Valley holiday hotspot). We don’t have a tree yet, so I attempted to draw an X-mas tree with light!
At first I used my typical illustration approach:
I’m pleased with how the image turned out, but it looked like it could use a little color. I added a bright green filter in PhotoShop to give this little tree a traditional look.
I couldn’t find anything similar to these illustrations online. I did come across a stock photo that inspired me to create abstract Christmas tree forms with my red and white flashlight akin to line art with light trails:
I am still working on Christmas characters, so look out for part 2 of this project. In the meantime, share your favorite holiday light painting techniques in the comments below!