Creating an Original Holiday Themed Photo

It’s safe to say that exposure to the Winter holidays is unescapable. Lights are hung, cheer is in the air, and opportune moments exist for capturing a great image. This year I challenged myself to capture a creatively themed holiday image unlike any I have seen or taken.

For myself, the ritual of a Christmas tree comes along with the celebration. Each year the tree is dug out, erected, and decorated. Back in 2007 I took my first creative Holiday images with my first digital camera, a Canon Rebel XT. It was a long exposure intended to make the tree appear as if it were on fire (Figure 1. O’ Tannenbaum).

It not only captured a ritualistic  holiday family tone, but a sense of mystery and darkness. Around this time I had first seen and been inspired from David Lynch’s film “Blue Velvet” and Otto Muhl’s experimental short film “O Tannenbaum”, to which I appropriated the name. Other inspiration for the image came from photographer Diane Arbus “Xmas Tree in a Living Room” below (Figure 2).

Figure 1. O’ Tannenbaum – Kevin Vogrin 2007
Diane Arbus Christmas Tree
Figure 2. Xmas Tree in a Living Room, Diane Arbus, 1963.

Here is the image I’ve come up with for the challenge (Figure 3). The editing isn’t 100% as I still need to tweak the color and make the image pop, but for what it is, I feel it accomplished the goal. Creating the image started with experimenting with a wide lens (16mm). After a few shots I noticed the sides of the tree wrapped around the back, and the center bowed forward due to the distortion of the lens. Using this to my advantage, I made a long exposure. Here’s the real kicker; while the shutter was open (8 -10 seconds) I walked a 360 degree circle around the tree equal distance to it’s front, until the exposure stopped. Because the composition of the tree and distance never changed, the shape of the tree remained the same. The result is a 3D representation of a 3D object on a 2D medium. The inclusion of the ceiling in the frame tells the process of how the image was created, melting into a smooth circle on the top of the image.

Kevin Vogrin Christmas Tree
Figure 3. Christmas Tree, Kevin Vogrin 2014

So there you have it, I’ve accomplished my goal and I have to say that experimenting creatively feels great! It opens up the creative juices that only enhance other work. I hope this is an inspiration to go out and capture your own creative holiday images. Keep those shutters clicking!

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