Seeing Stars

A couple of weeks ago, I had a little Christmas tree photo sheet using this method.  The shoot started at our house and ended at my parents, so I have pics of both our tree and theirs. I want go into many details about the method since some of you may not be into photography, but basically I placed a hood with a star cutout over my lens to turn the lights on the trees into stars.  Definitely visit Amanda's blog for more details.  At first, I had it all wrong.  I placed the star cutout over my lens and took a picture of our tree, and this is what I got.

Not exactly what I was trying to accomplish.  The lights were supposed to be star-shaped, not the whole darn picture.  After going back and re-reading the directions, I realized I needed a subject in front of my tree.  The magic is all in the bokeh.  Bokeh is when the background is all blurry.  (That's my very non-technical explanation.)

Let me demonstrate what I was trying to do with these three wooden trees I made my mom a few years ago.  Here is a normal picture of them of them all lit up.  I didn't use my flash because I wanted the twinkle lights to really shine.

Now here they are with all the same settings, except that the trees are out of focus so that the twinkle lights blurred into circles.

For the next picture, I left everything the same as above, except popped on the star cutout hood.

Pretty cool, huh?  All of these pictures are straight out of the camera - I haven't photoshopped them or anything.  Here's the same picture again, except I tightened up my focus a little to make the stars sharper.

Now, back to the photo shoot.  Sweet Anna was my subject while I tried to figure it all out.  She moved every which way I asked her to, from sitting up to laying down to scooting back, etc.  I had a hard time figuring out where I needed to position myself and where she should be to get the stars right.

Anna helped me try to hold Lolli still long enough for a picture, too.

When I finally thought I had it all figured out, I snatched Doc and tried to get a Christmas-y photo of us.

That didn't work that well since we had to get so low to be in the frame.  And we covered up most of the tree.  Oh well.  Doc had to leave me to take the kids home and head to the airport, so I packed up my photoshoot supplies and headed to my parents' house.

My mom refused to be photographed so my subjects were Henry and Lolli - two very wiggly dogs.  I got a little smarter, though, and scooted a small bench in front of the tree to set them up on.  This put them in the middle of all the tree lights (as opposed to down on the ground, making me have to shoot upward) and made it harder for them to run away (since I could catch them before they jumped off the bench).

Henry was less than thrilled about being photographed.

Lolli did a little bit better on the stool, but my stars still aren't very sharp.

Henry again.

Lolli, so tired of this (and also in need of a bath).

They aren't perfect (and don't even compare to Amanda's!) but it was fun to play around with anyway.  I've only done it the one time and haven't tried again since.  Maybe I will on Christmas Eve, though, because I have nieces and nephews that would look pretty darn cute in front of a starry Christmas tree.

I'll leave you with a picture of my mom's pretty Christmas tree. First, a regular picture.

And now, with stars.  Bam!