Festive & Christmas Themed Photo Opportunities To Keep You Busy

Festive & Christmas Themed Photo Opportunities To Keep You Busy - John Duder doesn't want you to get bored over the festive break so he's put together a top list of seasonal photos you can capture.

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General Photography


Christmas 'reindeer' Inventive Christmas decorations… The coloured scarves make this a potential ‘Silly Sunday’ picture.

 

Every magazine and website is telling you what to buy for Christmas – so – as a fully paid-up member of the Bah! Humbug! Club, I’m offering some suggestions that require no expenditure, beyond a little mental and physical exertion. And the willingness to tote a camera with you (if you don’t already!)

 

You may not even have to move very far – I took this shot of the front room mantelpiece while sitting on the sofa. Bah Humbug rules…You may not even have to move very far - I took this shot of the front room mantelpiece while sitting on the sofa. Bah Humbug rules…

 

However, as it is Christmas, there will be twelve of them…

 

Decorations Everywhere

They’re all over shops, garden centers, houses… Either snap a shop window done up for selling Christmas, a closeup of the decorations in your own home, or one of those wonderfully overdone houses where they’ve installed an industrial-grade electricity supply so that they can rival Oxford Street. It may not be in the best possible taste, but it’s exuberant, cheerful and happy!

 

Decorations – often, bigger and brighter in public areas than in any home.Decorations - often, bigger and brighter in public areas than in any home.

 

Traffic Jam

I’m expecting that my favourite local road, the M6, will have more than its share of slow-moving traffic. Whether you’re walking past it or caught up in it, take a moment out to grab a snap. If you’re driving, simply pull into a car park or layby, and stretch your legs for five minutes. It may even help you see the lighter side of the crawl to and from work.

 

Traffic stacked up at the lights. A long lens compresses the perspective, and makes the cars anonymous (number plates aren’t visible). It does present exposure and camera stability problems, though – in shade, a limited maximum aperture has led to a too-slow shutter speed. (1/80 @f/6.7 and 400 ISO, 300mm on a micro four thirds body equates to 600mm on full frame).Traffic stacked up at the lights. A long lens compresses the perspective and makes the cars anonymous (number plates aren’t visible). It does present exposure and camera stability problems, though - in shade, a limited maximum aperture has led to a too-slow shutter speed. (1/80 @f/6.7 and 400 ISO, 300mm on a micro four-thirds body equates to 600mm on full frame).

 

Shoot A Stranger

If it’s a season of goodwill, then there’s no better time to ask a complete stranger if you can take their picture – maybe dressed up to go out, or simply enjoying the season. Once you’ve asked one person, it’s easier to ask others next time…

 

I didn’t actually ask these two ladies if I could take their picture: they spotted my camera and the lady on the left asked if I was going to take their picture. The benefits of not keeping your camera hidden in public?

I didn’t actually ask these two ladies if I could take their picture: they spotted my camera and the lady on the left asked if I was going to take their picture. The benefits of not keeping your camera hidden in public?

 

Short Walk

If you’re a city dweller, take a stroll around your block: in the country, walk not more than ¼ mile from your front door with the express intent of finding something that will make a picture. Remember, your boring and every day is somebody else’s exotic and refreshing!

 

A couple of hundred yards from home, my local bus shelter, and a place I spend time regularly. Looking up, and the dirt on top of the shelter gives character.

A couple of hundred yards from home, my local bus shelter, and a place I spend time regularly. Looking up, and the dirt on top of the shelter gives character.

 

Sunrise/Sunset

The days are short, and if you’re in a full-time job, you’ll probably start before it’s light and leave the factory or office after dusk. But on your day off, make sure that you’re outside so that you can greet first light with a picture. Red and rosy or grey and stark, there is always a picture to be found. Or try to catch the last light of the day…

 

Sunrise is easier to capture near Christmas than at any other time – you don’t have to be up before everybody else. I snapped this with my mobile ‘phone from my office window – it’s not a great image, with no main subject, but there’s a certain charm to the chimney pots and the red clouds!

Sunrise is easier to capture near Christmas than at any other time – you don’t have to be up before everybody else. I snapped this with my mobile ‘phone from my office window - it’s not a great image, with no main subject, but there’s a certain charm to the chimney pots and the red clouds!

 

Opening Time

There has to be one rather specific Christmas Day shot in here: a picture of somebody opening their present. The kicker is that you should do it without flash – if it takes you out of your comfort zone, so much the better! Raise the ISO to the roof, and open the aperture wide if you have to. A ‘nifty fifty’ is the ideal lens for this exercise…

 

Opening a present… I may just have cheated a little – but even though this is clearly a set-up studio shot, the excellence of the Christmas sets at SS Creative Studio in Birmingham means I think it’s justified. And my children are far too old to allow their dad to photograph them opening presents… The model goes by the name of K.model

Opening a present… I may just have cheated a little - but, even though this is clearly a set-up studio shot, the excellence of the Christmas sets at SS Creative Studio in Birmingham means I think it’s justified. And my children are far too old to allow their dad to photograph them opening presents… The model goes by the name of K.model.

 

Shopping & Sales

If you’re shooting before 25 December, capture the rush and clog of crowds trying to get one last present: maybe, if you have time and a tripod, you can find a vantage point to allow a slow-speed exposure, with the crowds blurred into anonymity. If you are shooting after the big day, there’ll be just as much going on for the sales. Either way, step aside and observe instead of being part of the scrum!

 

Grand Central – the shopping arcade above New Street Station in Birmingham, was teeming with people when my wife went to sing carols with the choir she’s in. A long view captures a lot – maybe too much. Too many different details, all small in the frame. A telling closeup of shoppers (or even their bags) will tell a vital part of the story.

Grand Central - the shopping arcade above New Street Station in Birmingham, was teeming with people when my wife went to sing carols with the choir she’s in. A long view captures a lot - maybe too much. Too many different details, all small in the frame. A telling closeup of shoppers (or even their bags) will tell a vital part of the story.

 

Food!

There’s a feast for the eye and the camera as well as the digestive system: whether you take the time to set up a still life in the kitchen, on the dining table or at a street market, or just grab a mobile ‘phone shot of the office Christmas meal, make sure that you take at least one picture of food without people over the break. And post it on ePHOTOzine, of course!

 

German sausages in Walsall: in the interests of good relations, and getting a picture, I sampled a cheese sausage and German mustard… Not bad: very filling!

German sausages in Walsall: in the interests of good relations, and getting a picture, I sampled a cheese sausage and German mustard… Not bad: very filling!

 

Garden And Park

It’s a dead time of year for even the most ardent gardener (I know: I’m married to one). But when you look carefully, there will be the very first signs of the New Year’s growth starting… There may even be unseasonable blossom starting…

 

Even in the frosty depths of winter, there will be the first signs of new growth peeping through…  I shot this early in January 2018.

Even in the frosty depths of winter, there will be the first signs of new growth peeping through… I shot this early in January 2018.

 

Close-ups of new shoots, the trees parading in their winter underwear, you can get pictures that are uncluttered… My favourite aunt always said she preferred trees in winter because you can see the structure without the leaves.

 

I caught this naked tree in Staffordshire during a landscape expedition with Andy Gray, known to EPZ members as Legend147. The shape is beautiful, and the mist has removed background detail so it has no competition…

I caught this naked tree in Staffordshire during a landscape expedition with Andy Gray, known to ePz members as Legend147. The shape is beautiful, and the mist has removed background detail so it has no competition…

 

Church

Although there’s a winter solstice celebration in most cultures and religions, in the UK it’s always based around the Christian festival: it will be a special time for every church, and they’ll be particularly busy. They will also be decorated, to a greater or lesser extent. You may find humorous notices outside, and there will be a crib inside. Some churches will have candlelit services shortly before Christmas Day.

 

Church – one Advent candle is lit each Sunday coming up to Christmas, and the central candle is lit on Christmas Day.

Church - one Advent candle is lit each Sunday coming up to Christmas, and the central candle is lit on Christmas Day.

 

If you are taking pictures inside, always check with the priest or someone who looks to be in charge before taking pictures inside, especially if you want to take a shot during a service. Don’t be offended if the answer is no – services are, first and foremost, a spiritual time for the participants, and it can be a good time to put your camera down and let the reason for the season wash over you.

 

Candlelight

Candles used to be there for when there was a power cut: these days, most homes have the odd festive candle or tea lights along the mantelpiece. You might want to see what you can do in terms of close-ups, or you could try lighting a portrait purely with candlelight, it is beautiful and flattering if you remember to light the face from level or above, rather than below. Underlighting can give that Christmas ghost story look, though…

 

Candlelight portrait of Jessie Jayne, taken at The Boardroom studio in Derby.
Candlelight portrait of Jessie Jayne, taken at The Boardroom studio in Derby.

 

Seasonal Notices

It may be a big banner across the supermarket car park or a handwritten card at your local shop. Look for the quirky and the amusing: and always have an eye open for the legendary “Greengrocers apostrophe’s”!

 

A Walsall greengrocer who clearly passed their English exams. Not a misplaced apostrophe in sight…

A Walsall greengrocer who clearly passed their English exams. Not a misplaced apostrophe in sight...

 

Resolutions

I don’t really believe in New Year resolutions… If you want to change, do it now! However, Christmas is a time when the normal pattern of our lives tends to pause or change: and so it can be a good time to establish a new pattern. Psychologists say it takes between two weeks and six months to establish new patterns of behaviour – and many people take a two-week break around now.

A couple of ideas for 2019, then:

  • Always carry a camera - if you never take pictures on your mobile, start now!
  • Take at least one picture every day, no matter how mundane the subject is. Practice techniques that you want to be able to use without thinking when the photographic pressure is on.
  • Share a smile with someone because of your pictures. Get a print done for a friend or relative, or show a picture to somebody who is taking an interest in your camera.

One final thought. A few months ago, I decided to use the contents of my ePHOTOzine folder as the desktop for the two screens of my desktop computer. It’s set to rotate through all of the images, and it’s a great way for me to remind myself of images I edited a while ago and never uploaded. Living with your pictures is a great way to decide how good they really are: seeing them, in turn, may even spark off new ideas…

Happy Christmas!

 

My two screens, showing two of the shots in my EPZ folder. A really telling way of confronting yourself with the quality (or lack of it) of your shots…

My two screens, showing two of the shots in my ePz folder. A really telling way of confronting yourself with the quality (or lack of it) of your shots...

 

About Author: John Duder 

John Duder has been an amateur photographer for fifty years, which surprises him, as he still reckons he’s 17.

Over the last year, he’s been writing the odd article for Ephotozine, as well as being a member of the Critique Team. He’s also been running occasional lighting workshops and providing one-to-one photographic tuition.

He remains addicted to cameras, lenses, and film.


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dudler Plus
15 756 1439 England
17 Dec 2018 7:35PM
And Happy Christmas, everyone!

Both models featured in pictures here are on Purpleport, by the way.

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