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 Monday, December 21, 2015
Putting up and decorating is a big family tradition at our house and the annual photographing of the tree is my own sub-tradition.
The photo setup starts long before the camera comes out, beginning with the position of the tree. In addition to the location selected in the house (ours has a very logical one), make sure that the tree appears vertically straight (regardless of the trunk's curvature) and, if the tree is being centered on a feature (such as a set of windows), fine tune that position.
The next item on the checklist must be attended to before you string the lights on the Christmas tree (I know, that is the favorite job). The key is to make sure that all of the strings of lights have bulbs with the same brightness (or that they are dissimilar enough to look proper). Perhaps I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack as I skipped this step (thought we corrected this issue last year) and ... apparently there are two different Christmas light models in our tree kit. At least I have a dark-light-dark-light pattern going up the tree. Hopefully most will think that design was intentional.
After the tree is fully decorated, clean up the area around it – minimally all that will be included in the frame. This task may include smoothing the carpet if it shows tracks.
The Best Time of Day to Photograph the Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree can be photographed at any time of day or night, but the best time of the day is when the ambient light is right for the image you want. A tree located in a room with many windows will, without significant shading, show mostly green with ornaments and a subdued look to the strings of lights. This is a very nice look.
My preference for photographing our tree, installed in our great room/living room, is to use only the light from the Christmas tree lights with very low or no additional ambient light. With windows behind our tree, I am quickly limited to the after dark timeframe. After dark comes early in late fall and early winter, but there is another issue. People walking around cause the floor to flex slightly and that makes the ornaments swing, becoming blurred in a long exposure. So, after the kids are in bed (or plan to be somewhere else in the house for a period of time) works best for long exposures sans kids in the picture.
Having windows in your photo quickly complicates the tree photo session for a couple of reasons in addition to the ambient light they provide. One reason is what is outside of the window. Waiting until after dark usually takes care of this problem unless there are other lights visible through the windows (such as street lights). In the latter case, blocking your windows from outside, such as with black foam core, may be a solution to the issue. In this photo, I waited until late in the blue hour on a very foggy day to get a slight even blue glow through the windows. I wasn't sure how bright I wanted the blue to be, but capturing a frame every few minutes allowed me to choose what I thought was ideal at a later time.
Reflections are another issue with windows. If Christmas lights are being reflected, those reflections are often beneficial to the composition. But, if something else in your house is being reflected (such as the LCD panel on the microwave or thermostat), the effect will not likely be appreciated.
Lens Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
The desired perspective should always drive focal length selection and in this case, working space may limit the perspective options. Within the bounds of walls and other furniture (consider moving it), the optimal perspective will often result in a wide angle lens being selected.
Experiment with perspective, utilizing the various focal lengths at a variety of distances. Also try a variety of camera heights, but do so with an understanding that a vertically level camera is going to keep vertical lines in the frame straight. Windows, corners, furniture and other items will provide those straight lines.
Aperture Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
While a wide variety of apertures can be used for Christmas tree photos and blurred Christmas trees are quite beautiful, f/16 is one of my favorites. I know, your first thought was to cringe at the softness that diffraction will impart at this aperture and that is a true concern. But, the narrower the aperture used, the bigger the star effect created by each light on the tree. The f/16 aperture is a bit of a compromise in that the images remain reasonably sharp (and sharpenable) with rather large stars being created. Experiment with f/8 through f/22 to determine your own preference.
While ISO 100 is ideal, I went to ISO 200 for this exposure to reduce the amount of time each frame was taking. This one stop increase in ISO meant little in terms of noise, but it took 15 seconds off of the exposure and another 15 seconds off of the long exposure noise reduction information capture following the exposure.
You have spent (or are going to spend) all that time and expense putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it, so ... plan on spending some time taking pictures of it. If you don't think the right lens is in your kit, this would be a good time to buy it. Renting a lens to use over the holidays is another great idea.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 11:15:45 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
From LensRentals:
Now is the perfect time to rent and try new gear! We are giving 25% off on all rentals to ring in the new year. Reserve your rental, have it arrive by January 4th, and use code HOLIDAY25.
Fine Print:
  • Must use code HOLIDAY25 at checkout
  • Arrival date must be 01/04/16 or earlier
To support this site, navigate to the appropriate product review and click the Rent button.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 10:49:41 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
From the Canon Professional Network:
By Laura Morita, Professional Child and Family Photographer
"It's pretty much the most amazing thing in the world when you look at the back of your camera and you see the incredible image you have captured. Perfect light, perfect moment, perfect expression. You get it home and and upload it onto your computer only to discover that it's out of focus. Wompwomp. In the early days of learning about photography, I struggled with getting sharp images. In this article, you'll learn my tips for getting sharp images. "
See the entire article on the Canon Professional Network.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/21/2015 10:15:06 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

From the Profoto YouTube Channel:
The Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden is a place like no other. Designed in a gracious Art Nouveau style and constructed in white marble with details in pure gold, the proud 100-year-old is built to impress both kings and queens.
Join us on a dramatic photoshoot at this extraordinary location, as photographer Klara G shoots a group portrait of the nine actors playing the Ekdahl family in this year’s production of Fanny & Alexander, a popular play based on legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name.
Gear Used
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 8:53:37 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Just posted: Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 Lens Review.
I know, the Zeiss Milvus lens reviews are all starting to sound similar. Fact is, these lenses are very similar to each other outside of their image quality and focal length. Consider jumping directly to the "Image Quality" subheading to get right to the meat.
B&H has the Zeiss Milvus 35mm f/2 Lens in Canon mount in stock (Nikon mount version is available for preorder).
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 8:38:59 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
B&H has the Bolt VB-22 Bare-Bulb Flash and Accessory Kit available for $599.95 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $1,220.95.
Kit Includes
  • Bolt VB-22 Bare-Bulb Flash
  • Bolt Cyclone DR PP-400DR Dual Outlet Power Pack
  • Bolt Grid and Filter Kit for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
  • Bolt PP-DC Doubler Cable for Power Packs
  • Bolt PP-SC Splitter Cable for Power Packs
  • Bolt Mounting Clamp for Portable Power Pack
  • Bolt 15' Extension Power Cord for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
  • Bolt Snoot Set for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
  • Bolt PP-400BP Cyclone DR Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (11.1 V, 4500 mAh)
  • Bolt Beauty Dish and Grid Kit for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
  • Bolt Umbrella Mounting Kit for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
  • Bolt RR-16-A Remote Flash Receiver
  • Bolt Remote Transmitter for Bolt Flashes
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 8:19:20 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, B&H is offering a 12-month subscription to Adobe's Photography Plan ($119.88 value) with the purchase of select Canon lenses (all of which qualify for free Next Day Delivery). Eligible lenses are listed below.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/21/2015 8:02:27 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
The Canon Store still has a decent selection of refurbished gear in stock that's on sale for 15% off or more.
In Stock Deals
Refurbished ItemOrig PriceSavingsSale Price
Canon EOS 7D Mark II + EF-S 18-135 IS STM1,719.20370.201,349.00
Canon EOS 7D Mark II1,439.20340.201,099.00
Canon EOS 70D + EF-S 18-55 IS STM1,079.20429.21649.99
Canon EOS Rebel T6s + EF-S 18-135 IS STM959.20109.21849.99
Canon EOS Rebel T5i + EF-S 18-135 IS STM799.99200.00599.99
Canon EOS Rebel T6i + EF-S 18-55 IS STM719.99100.00619.99
Canon EOS Rebel T5i Body519.9960.00459.99
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM519.9978.00441.99
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM439.9966.00373.99
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS399.9960.00339.99
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS559.99210.00349.99
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM799.99120.00679.99
Canon EF 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 L IS USM1,959.20293.881,665.32
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II199.9930.00169.99
Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM239.99110.00129.99
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM1,119.20167.88951.32
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM519.9978.00441.99
Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III159.9990.0069.99
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM1,359.20203.881,155.32
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM1,679.20251.881,427.32
Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM431.9964.80367.19
Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM479.9972.00407.99
Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM407.9961.20346.79
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM319.9948.00271.99
Canon EF 100mm f/2 USM399.9960.00339.99
Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT439.9966.00373.99
Canon Speedlite 430EX II239.9936.00203.99
Canon Speedlite 320EX199.9930.00169.99
Canon Speedlite 270EX II135.9920.40115.59
Canon Speedlite 90EX119.9918.00101.99

I purchased the EF-S 55-250 IS STM a short time ago and I'm finding it to be a very convenient lens when photographing distant subjects is anticipated. The image below showing the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort (across the river) was taken using a Super Color IR converted EOS 7D (via Life Pixel) and the 55-250 IS STM. [Sean]
Westin Savannah Harbor in Super Color IR

Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/21/2015 7:02:51 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H has a Canon PowerShot G16 with PIXMA PRO-100 Bundle available for $219.00 with free shipping after $350.00 mail-in rebate.
Bundle Includes
  • Canon PowerShot G16 Digital Camera
  • Canon PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printer
  • SG-201 Photo Paper Plus Semi-Gloss (13 x 19", 50 Sheets)
  • SanDisk - 32GB Ultra UHS-I SDHC Memory Card (Class 10)
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/21/2015 6:18:46 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H has the Lowepro Vertex 300 AW Backpack available for $199.99 with free shipping. Regularly $329.99.
Product Highlights
  • Rugged, all-weather backpack made to carry digital camera equipment and a 17" notebook computer.
  • An All Weather Cover is seam-sealed to provide protection for your gear in extreme conditions.
  • Tricot covered Photo Viewer pocket inside backpack.
  • Adjustable Glide-Lock system attaches tripods or any Slip-Lock-compatible product, making it easy to add external gear.
  • Removable tripod holder made to carry a standard tripod or monopod.
  • Lightweight harness system made with high-density padding and multiple adjustment points.
B&H has several Lowepro bags currently marked down that you may also be interested in.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 5:53:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, B&H has the DJI Phantom 2 v2.0 with Zenmuse H4-3D Gimbal Kit available for $489.00 with free next day delivery. Regularly $699.00.
Product Highlights
  • Gimbal Stabilizes GoPro HERO4
  • Capture Exiting Aerial Footage
  • Updated Transmitter with Gimbal Control
  • More Efficient Motors, ESC and Props
  • Smart Battery Lasts Up to 25 Minutes
  • GPS-Based Autopilot with Return to Home
  • Intelligent Orientation Control (IOC)
  • Beginner and Advanced Flight Modes
  • LED Indicators + Low Voltage Protection
  • Assistant Software for Windows and OS X
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 5:06:46 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Sunday, December 20, 2015
With so many family meetups planned for the near future, we encourage you to take advantage of the personal connections to protect yourself from catastrophic data loss by giving a trustworthy family member an offsite backup in the form of a portable hard drive. Doing so is easy and will provide you a little peace of mind that your images are protected.
And with a price-to-storage-capacity ratio that seems to get better by the day, protecting your data with offsite external hard drives is a more reasonable option than ever. Our personal favorite is the WD My Passport series, but there are certainly a wide range of options to choose from.
Bad things happen; a house fire, flooding, theft or a primary hard drive failure can easily wipe away years of photographic treasures in a matter of seconds. So this year, give your family something that requires no wrapping, no assembly, and batteries – a pre-filled portable hard drive – and help ensure your beautifully crafted 1s and 0s remain safe.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/20/2015 6:21:59 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Friday, December 18, 2015
Image quality results from the EOS 5Ds R and EOS 7D Mark II have been added to the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens Review.
This is another oldie but goodie. The 23 year old EF 85 f/1.8 is another perrenial favorite with a good everyday value price made bargain grade with a $70.00 instant rebate.
B&H has the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Lens in stock with a 4% B&H reward and "Free Next Day Delivery (USA)".
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/18/2015 8:28:50 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
According to the Egami Blog, Canon has filed a patent for a 600mm diffractive optics lens for mirrorless cameras.
Plans to release an EF-M 600mm f/5.6 DO IS may indicate that Canon is planning to take their mirrorless camera system to the next level by making it more attractive to high-end shooters as a primary imaging platform.
You can find more information regarding the patent on the Egami Blog.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/18/2015 6:30:41 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, Sigma is offering $100.00 - $200.00 instant savings on three of their most popular lenses, all of which qualify for free next day delivery. See below for details.
Limited Time Instant Rebates
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (review)$100.00
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary (review)$100.00
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports (review)$200.00

And as an added bonus, the Sigma 150-600mm lenses each come with a free USB Dock when purchased from B&H.
Several other Sigma lenses are also currently available with instant savings.
For what it's worth, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art is one of my favorite lenses and a very good deal at the after-instant-rebate price. [Sean]
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/18/2015 5:39:55 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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