UPDATE, JUNE 2024: Strobist was archived in 2021. Here is what I am up to now. -DH


'Twas The Light Before Christmas

UPDATE: Also after the jump: A Christmas Day game plan.

It's Christmas Eve, and whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday in your household, the last week of the year is a very special time.

The entire staff here at Strobist International Headquarters will be spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with our families. So there won't be any posts on the 24th or 25th. (We even let the interns have Christmas off.)

But we still have a few tricks up our sleeve before the calendar rolls over. More after the jump.

If you do happen to cruise by here during that time, I would appreciate it if you could take a moment to declare your status in the latest question in our ongoing reader poll. This week we are wanting to know if you in it for love or money. I am already surprised at what percentage of you are full-blown amateurs. Must have been the pictures that fooled me.

(The poll is at the bottom of the sidebar on right.)

The last poll did not surprise me in direction, but floored me in magnitude. Here's the sad fact: We are over 90 percent male.

I will soon be hitting up the (apparently) 12 women who actually read this site for ideas on what we can do to make lighting education more accessible to your gender-mates. So, please be thinking about that. I mean seriously, there has got to be a way to balance that statistic out a little.

(Besides, just think how pathetically boring our parties would be...)

In addition to the pro/am thing, I am going to be polling on camera platform and a couple of other things. The general idea is to replace my hare-brained assumptions about you guys with some decent info. This will help me to better position the content on the site.

We have a few more cool lighting posts coming between now and January 1st. And there are a few New Year's resolutions to be made (and subsequently broken.)

Also, there is the small matter of a few SPOY prizes to consider. Five of you folks are gonna have an extra-special, late Christmas.

But until then, may Santa bring you a set of Pocket Wizards (or at the very least, a cardboard snoot.) And please accept my best wishes for a Merry Christmas and/or Happy New year from my family to yours.

And yes, sadly, this was shot with on-camera flash. But it was hurriedly set up for another family to shoot. They were also there to kill a perfectly good evergreen. And besides, we used the sun as a rim light. (Here's the tree, dressed up.)



Okay, now for the Christmas game plan. If you are going to be shooting little munchkins unwrapping gifts in the morning, go ahead and stick two speedlights up on stands, bare and pointed to the ceiling, in the corners of the room.

If your tree is in a corner, stick your flashes in adjacent corners for 45-degree bounce cross light. If your tree is in the middle of a wall, stick your flashes in the corners of the opposite wall. This placement is just a quick suggestion, and defintely experiment.

Set your camera on your highest sync speed. Now, using a starting point of 1/4 power on each, test at various apertures until you get a good working aperture. The light should be pretty even all around the room, svae right next to the lights. After you have a good aperture selected for the flash portion of the exposure, vary your shutter speed (opening up) and test until you get a good balance with the ambient lighting in the room.

This might mean windows, Christmas tree lights -- whatever. Remember not to go too low if you do not want to risk ghosting. I'd keep it above 1/30th. But the flashes will freeze a lot of movement anywhay.

Now you'll have soft, even, multi-directional light for Christmas morning. Darn hard to miss with that. You can even test it tonight (Christmas Eve) and you'll be ready with great light when things get a little crazy tomorrow morning.


(Way cool DIY holiday ringlight idea by Peter Boden. See the results here.)


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