Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Consider your wish...


Vin was asking about my tree this year. Well, here it is. Naturally, posting a mere picture would be a tad too ordinary for me. I've elected instead to give you a taste of the possibilities your digital camera may offer.*

I usually tell my friends to slap it into 'auto', make sure your flash is ready and then shoot. It is a pretty solid methodology which usually yields fine results for someone who can't be bothered to figure out all the buttons and menus on their camera. It will give you the most good shots the most often. But sometimes, as you will see, 'auto' needs to be put in its place.

*digital camera mileage may vary by brand/model

As you can see, this picture is full auto - with flash. And if that were a jumping 4-year old opening a present in a dimly lit room on x-mas morning, that would be the correct settings for your camera. We can barely see that the lights are on. No wonder or beauty. A great way to count your decorations though.

Realizing our mistake, we simply turn off the flash for the picture on the right. The camera tries to compensate, and if you were holding the camera in your hands and nothing to steady yourself this might be the best you could do to avoid blur. Now the only thing we can see are the lights. Plenty of mystery, but maybe just a bit too much.

"But, I don't have a tripod," you might be tempted to whine. Use a table, the TV or a stack of books. The minute to set up the shot is so worth it.

I moved away from the 'auto' setting and manually changed my exposure to 8 seconds and the f-stop to 5. My preview told me that that should be plenty of light. Even with a tripod or other support, when you do a long exposure it is best not to just 'click' the shot -- Even a tiny shudder will make your final image blurry. Just set timer (I know your digital camera has one, so don't open your mouth) for the shortest time you have (mine was set for 2 sec delay).
Now we have captured the essence which, hopefully, Christmas trees held for us as children. Glowing light, mysterious shadows and magical possibility.