Christmas Tree Trimming (with Off-Camera Lighting)

Just a little family-fun posting here, along with some nerdy technical lighting. Yes, that’s right, I bring joy to Christmas by hiding small flash units around the living room. My wife barely gave me a look this time…she’s used to this sort of thing by now. But hey, a little lighting takes even snapshots to a new level. For this impromptu group shot above, I even got the dog to look at the camera. A first!

A high-tech lighting diagram, and more family fun follows. And by the way, this is all out of the strobist handbook. I didn’t invent this. I just have a cuter family.

[click “continue reading” below for more…]

While my youngest son was taking his nap, I grabbed two strobes and remotes, and placed them in the living room. I picked locations that would mostly be out of frame, and that didn’t involve setting up light stands. I just stuck the flashes on the piano and the fireplace mantelpiece (red circles). I appear to have spelt “mantel” incorrectly in my diagram. There’s no spellcheck when freehand drawing in Photoshop.

I shot mainly in two directions, indicated by the blue arrows. Both flashes were just aimed up at the wall/ceiling join, for some soft light bouncing around the room. And the ambient sometimes entered the equation, as seen in the lead shot (with the mid-afternoon sun outside). The location by the mantelpiece seemed to yield the nicer lighting, and allowed for profiles of the kids as they put decorations on the tree.

The two below are of my oldest son. He insisted I take the shot of the ornament with his picture on it.

My youngest, in a pensive moment. Main light here is the Sunpak 333 on the piano, with the SB-28 on the mantel acting as a hairlight.

The individual family members, hanging ornaments…

Now here you can see where I caught the flash in the background (The SB-28), bouncing off the wall. Doesn’t matter, it’s a cute shot. Lighting can’t be perfect every time, and sometimes takes a back seat to a emotive image.

And this one taken by my wife, as we put the star on the top of the tree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.