Christmas is coming – the goose is getting fat. I don’t have a goose so I thought I would share a few random ideas on Christmas and photography.
We would all like to capture the picture of a lifetime by snapping Father Christmas on his rounds. There has been a rare occasion when the Apollo 8 crew saw him on Christmas Eve 1968:
089:34:16 Lovell (On Apollo 8): Houston, Apollo 8, over.
089:34:19 Mattingly (Ground Control Houston): Hello, Apollo 8. Loud and clear.
089:34:25 Lovell: Roger. Please be informed there is a Santa Claus.
089:34:31 Mattingly: That’s affirmative. You’re the best ones to know. –NASA
This sighting must be unusual as Father Christmas has a long distance to travel in a short time. He starts at the beginning of Christmas Eve in places like Australia, and ends in Alaska just before dawn on Christmas morning. This gives him about 36 hours to play with (due to the International Date Line).
There are nearly 7 billion people in the world which means Santa has roughly one billion households to visit, travelling ten million kilometres in 36 hours. Moving at an average speed of 77 kilometres per second (48 miles per second), with about 130 microseconds to deliver presents to each household. My camera’s fastest shutter speed is 1/8000 second and, with Father Christmas being in and out in 320/1,000,000 second, his picture is going to be a bit blurred!
Luckily, the University of California has come up with a camera to do the trick. It is the Serial Time-Encoded Amplified iMaging, or Steam Camera. This camera uses laser pulses, less than a millionth of a millionth of a second long to record the image. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale!
So perhaps we should focus (pun intended) on what we can take pictures of.
Snapping the Family
I’m sure we have all taken pictures when we are bleary eyed on Christmas morning of the family opening their presents using on camera flash, and we get red eye and rabbit in the headlight shock pictures. So, if you do not have a separate flashgun, try to take natural light pics or use the camera menu to reduce the power of the flash or even pop a bit of tissue over the flash to diffuse the light. It is even better to use a separate flashgun. The simplest way is to bounce the flash off the ceiling. This gives a more natural look. You can always attach a small piece of white card to the rear of the flash with an elastic band to throw a bit of light directly onto the subject’s face (some flashguns have a small rear reflector).
Here bounce flash was used to give a more natural light.
After the great day (or even before if you have spare time) Christmas lights allow you to create great bokeh pictures. This link will take you to the excellent explanation by Gavin Hoey:
You can even modify the appearance of your bokeh by adding different cut out cards to the front of your lens.
Finally: A Snappy End
By special request, here are a few quiz questions from previous Christmas quizzes:
Dr Edwin Land invented the instant camera in which decade?
Which photographic process was first demonstrated in 1962?
The first successful photograph required how long an exposure time?
What did the Lumiere brothers invent in 1895?
Which super hero worked as a photographer for the Daily Bugle?
What do the following abbreviations used in photography stand for? (a) AWB, (b) DoF, (c) DNG, (d) DPI, (e) Exif
(The answers will appear in January)