“And everything looks better in gold and green
The lights on the trees in the eyes of our children
Are the prettiest I’ve ever seen”
Week 31 Challenge: Excitement
M’s first Christmas – probably more fun for us than her but excitement at Christmas is palpable no matter who it’s coming from!
Week 40: Golden
These images were taken the same afternoon as the ones I did for the Low Key submission and so my challenges were similar, the biggest of which was keeping her attention! Thankfully some plastic Christmas balls and beads produced some gorgeous smiles!
A technical challenge I didn’t expect (or read about in all my pinterest sleuthing among the DIY tutorials for xmas backgrounds), was that most Christmas lights are now LED. Not a big deal right? Well maybe, maybe not. It depends on the make and model of your lights.
Unbeknownst to me prior to this session, LED lights work on a direct current so for most homes which have power at 120V on an alternating current, it means that the lights are actually flicking on and off 60 times per second. When you’re looking directly at them what you see is a slight flicker, what your camera sees however, depending on your settings, or more specifically an incredibly slow shutter (meaning loooong exposure) is a lot of dead lights.
These two photos below (unedited) were taken seconds apart on continuous shutter.
Now you have a few options to correct this issue. The first is to do some sleuthing yourself and see if you cant find those wonderful warm old lights we all used to use (you know the ones, way back in the 90s!) that have a clean steady light. The downside to this (and in my books it’s a MAJOR downside) is the heat they produce. Stringing hot Christmas lights across a fabric backdrop (or wood, or plastic, or vinyl or whatever you’re using), not to mention within reach of an 8 month old? You’re asking for burns in either the backdrop or baby or both. To each their own, but for me not a viable option.
The second option – something called a bridge rectifier. Many LED lights are now made with the bridge rectifier built in. This device essentially turns your alternating current (as it relates to the string of lights) into a direct current and corrects the flicker. For those light sets that don’t have one built in you can add one yourself but buyer beware – you might want to ask someone with electrical experience to do this for you. Again think about burned backdrops and babies. Not something that will further your photography career! So better safe than sorry, check the fine print to know for sure whether or not your LEDs have a bridge rectifier already installed.
And lastly the third option, the one I ended up going with due to lack of options – edit the lights in! Now this option is kind of dicey since I don’t have Lightroom or Photoshop and GIMP while dependable, is somewhat limited in it’s tools. BUT I was in a pinch since these pictures were a one time only option and it took way too much effort to get it all set up to not use them. So for the lights that worked I pretty much “cloned” them and spread them out into the dead spots in the image. It may have been more obvious for some shots than others but overall, not too shabby for a novice! But next year I can build on these learning curves for sure.