Christmas Photo Tips - part 2

See days 1-4 here in part 1

Day 5 - light painting challenge

Photos made by light painting - Lego toys, Brisbane City and a Christmas tree

Grafitti the town, play Pictionary with a torch, and make the children's toys come alive with light painting.
We used a torch, a sparkler and a laser pointer for these.

There's hours of fun to be had with light painting. These days your phone is the easiest way to do it. All you need is an app like 'Slow Shutter Cam' for iOS (set the Capture Mode to Light Trail) or on Android use the “Pro” mode or “Manual” mode on the camera app, or try the free app “Camera FV-5 Lite” if it doesn’t have these modes.

Light painting works by taking a one long photo over several seconds, allowing you time to paint a picture through it with any kind of light. You pick how many seconds you need to do the painting - called your “shutter speed”. You could use a sparkler, a torch, a glow stick or even a light sabre. Give your kids some lights, use a tripod (or just prop the phone up with something), and see how inventive they can be. Wear dark clothes so they don’t come out too brightly if they’re in the photo. You could set a Xmas Tree, Reindeer or Santa challenge, kids (and adults after some Xmas cheer) can be very inventive as the night wears on! Or connect your phone to the TV with an HDMI cable, and the family can enjoy a twist on the game of Pictionary - you draw in the air with a light.

If you’re doing it the traditional way with a big camera, it needs to be dark or the picture will come out totally white. Set your camera to Shutter Priority (S or Tv mode) and choose a duration for the photo - enough time for you to do your painting. Outside at night, about 20 seconds often works well. Indoors, try turning off most of the lights, and use about 10 seconds. The numbers will flash or go red if the camera thinks it can’t get the brightness right with the duration you’ve chosen. If the camera stubbornly refuses to shoot no matter how hard you press the button, it means it’s too dark for it to see to focus - just add a bit of light with your torch and you should be good to go, or switch to manual focus if it still won’t work.

True story… after doing light painting with his family, a client sent me an e-mail with the tongue-in-cheek title “I’ve got a bone to pick with you…”. His children thought they were genuinely invisible because they didn’t come out in the photos!

Show us what YOU get!

Day 6 - Share your photos

Screenshot of iPhone showing shared folders

If you're like me, you get loads of share worthy photos on Xmas day but by Easter they are all still waiting for you to find the time to share them. An easy solution is a shared album - one place where everybody's photos are shared instantly.

It’s easy if everyone has iPhones: use the Photos app to create a shared album (tap the + symbol at the top left) and invite other iPhone users. Everyone can add their photos: select them in the Photos app, hit the share button and scroll down to “Add to shared album”. If you have an Apple TV, make the album your screen saver in the Settings app, so everyone can enjoy them.

If you want Android users to play, create a new album using Google Drive, then invite everyone to it by sharing the link, selecting the option “anyone with a link can edit”. This means all will be able to contribute.

If you want to share your photos from your DSLR or other camera, recent models have wifi to get them onto your phone through the manufacturer's app. Otherwise download onto the computer then upload to the shared album online.

Or share the old-fashioned way with an instant printer. They print straight from your phone and come in all sizes. Our favourite is the Fuji Instax SP2 - not because it's the best, but because the photos develop slowly, polaroid-style, and the tension is priceless. It also prints directly from Fuji cameras, making them great for breaking the ice when travelling. It's nice to be able to give photos rather than just take them.

Fuji Instax printer and a print

Fuji's Instax printer. Fabulous for instant sharing, 1970's polaroid-style.

More tomorrow...

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