Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flash Your Christmas Tree

Today the wife and I gathered our three children to take our annual Christmas portrait in front of our Christmas tree. The room lighting was not very good so I setup two off camera slave flashes (580 EX II and 430 EX) on light stands and triggered them using the Canon 7D's built-in master flash. I love this feature on the 7D!

I wanted to capture the available light of the Christmas tree but after a few test shots with the children I knew I would have to go with a faster shutter speed to minimized motion blur because our youngest would not or could not stand still. This resulted in a 1/60 second shutter speed with an aperture of 4.5. to get a shallow depth of field. I setup the camera to manual mode (M) and took a few test shots to dial in the flash to get a decent exposure.

We took several images with all five us but I was not very happy with any of them because the lights on the Christmas tree just didn't show up at all. The children were becoming restless so I made the decision that what we had taken was going to have to do.

After the boys were off in their rooms playing my wife and I continued the photo session with a few images of both of us. Me being somewhat lazy on that Sunday afternoon I left the camera on the same settings as before and again I wasn't happy with the results.

What to do? I decided to slow the shutter shutter speed by a stop or two while leaving the aperture at 4.5 and I also lowered the flash output by 1 stop. Wow, what a difference it made. Now this is what I had in mind when we started.

Next year our youngest will be a little bit older and hopefully a little more able or willing to stand still so I can use the slower shutter speed and get those Christmas tree lights to really glow in our family Christmas portrait.

All images copyright Daniel Ray Photography.


  1. Lovely family - gorgeous wife! lol Hi Dawn!

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  3. Beautiful photography of the family!