For the last two years I have been photographing our Christmas morning using the interval timer on my Nikon D700. I shared this post last year of Christmas 2012 but for 2013, I made a few changes to help make the images clearer and more fun so I wanted to share!

Added materials for 2013:

Let’s look at this first image from the 2012 slideshow…

2012 Christmas morning photo

Nikon D700 with 24-70 f/2.8 lens
Settings: 1/125, f/3.5, ISO 2500

The light from the windows became so bright!  We started opening presents in the dark so it was difficult to meter and predict what the light would do.  As the sun rose in the sky, the exposure on my camera wasn’t ideal any longer and I was too busy opening presents to notice! I thought ALL year long about how I could deal with this.  I purchased some Rip Stop fabric – which is the same fabric that covers the front of soft-boxes.  It cost me about $2.50 for two yards, after a fabulous coupon.  Hung with a little bit of masking tape, when the sun did start to come up, the fabric helped control the hard lines!

Here’s an Instagram shot of the window and my camera.  I added a speedlight and set it up so that the light was bouncing up and to the right.  I also used a tripod to get the camera in a better position.

lighting set up for Christmas morning pictures by Melissa Stottmann

The result… with flash added!

photographing Christmas morning with a tripod interval timer and speedlight

Nikon D700 with 24-70 f/2.8 lens
Settings: 1/160, f/4, ISO 2500

I was lucky enough to have purchased a D800 last fall and was most excited about the video feature!  I wanted to utilize video to make the images come to life inside of the slideshow. However, even if I hadn’t purchased the second camera body, I would have taken some videos with my iPhone to add in!

Here I am shooting video while the camera was shooting!

Christmas morning photo by Melissa Stottmann

Take aways for this year:

  1. Set up the camera, Rip Stop Fabric & Speedlight the same way.
  2. Shoot more video clips but keep them around 5-7 seconds each (they are a pain for me to shorten in post production).  Also, I’d like to add videos of the details like the lights on the tree, clips of the kids hands opening presents, what the dogs are up to, etc.
  3. Add more shooting perspectives.  My daughter is getting a camera for Christmas this year — a Fuji Instax Mini in an adorable pink color. This summer her and I worked on the “Teaching Your Kids Photography” breakout and she is in love with all things photography. We plan to work on other instructor’s lessons throughout her Christmas break.  I want to have her new camera ready to go and loaded up so she can take her first set on Christmas morning and I can include her images, too!
  4. Finally, I want a family group picture at the end of the slideshow.  So many wonderful slideshows were produced last year and many women thought to get a family picture at the end.  I LOVE that idea.  The camera will already be up and running, we just have to sit down together!
  5. Oh, and those pajama pants last year… they are straight ‘hammer time’… I will be wearing some nice slimming yoga pants instead!

Fuji Instax Mini 8

Now… go get your camera ready for Christmas morning!