Holiday Tree Photography

One of my favorite things about the winter is decorating the holiday tree.  I have been decorating my very own tree since I was 14 years old.  Before that, I did most of the decorating of my parents' tree.  My tree is a celebration of nature and life.  Therefore, the only types of ornaments on it are animals, plants and snowmen.  However, Mr. and Mrs. Claus always adorn the top of the tree.

As much of an environmentalist as I am, I still love to get a real tree.  There's nothing like the aroma of a fresh pine tree!  Because I think of each tree's sacrifice as a special thing, I even save a small, clear plastic box of needles from every Christmas tree.  I make the box of needles into an ornament and they are now hung on the small artificial tree to the left of the main one, so that every year, each past tree is still a part of each upcoming year.  I used to hang them on the main tree before I got the extra tree.  Luckily, my community offers recycling of trees, and they are turned into woodchips after the holidays.

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Click on any photo to see a larger view!


Holiday Tree 2017

December 8, 2017.  Various exposure settings.




Here is a movie showing the lights in action.  Lyle is to the right, doing an impressive job of staying still.

December 12, 2017.  Various exposure settings from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.











Holiday Tree 2016

November 29, 2016.  Various exposure settings.  The sky wasn't blue enough to get the nice effect I got last year just after sunset.  Lyle snuck into the second to last photo.




December 5, 2016




December 7, 2016



December 9, 2016



December 20, 2016




December 22, 2016

Finally got the blue tone I was looking for.










Holiday Tree 2015

I discovered that the best lighting conditions for photographing the tree are just after sunset and just before sunrise.  A blue tint comes in through my blinds behind the tree which creates a nice effect.  This time, I managed to also take a video so one can see the full effect of the lighting, as there are over 1500 lights on the tree.  This series begins just before sunrise, with a few photos during the day, and the rest at sunset.






Here are some taken with the wide angle lens.






Here is the video.



Holiday Tree 2014








Holiday Tree 2013










Christmas Tree 2012

Here are some photos of this year's tree under different lighting conditions.







Two animations, one in the dark and one in the light...



Christmas Tree 2011

Here are some photos of this year's tree under different lighting conditions.






Christmas Tree 2010

Here is this year's Christmas tree.  These photos were taken at night with different camera settings.  The first animation was made with photos taken at ISO 400 at f/8 for 1.6 seconds.  The second animation was made with photos taken at ISO 400 at f/3.5 for 1/4 second.  There are two differences this year with the tree:  1)  There is no tinsel (I think I've put tinsel on every tree I've ever had);  2)  My vintage blown glass ornaments are not on it.  I have a new metal "tree" that I used to display those ornaments on this year.



Here are some photos in the daylight.





January 9, 2010

Just before I took down the tree, I decided to try taking a video of it.  I had tried taking one at night last month, but it didn't turn out well because the camera couldn't focus.  In this video, the tree isn't in the greatest of shape anymore because the weight of the ornaments caused the branches to droop.  Some of the ornaments have turned around too.  I still decided to include the video since it shows close-ups of some of the ornaments that one can't see in the regular photographs.




December 20, 2009

Here is this year's Christmas tree, photographed in the daylight and at night.  I also made an animation from each photo shoot.





Christmas 2008

Here are a variety of photographs of this year's Christmas tree taken with different camera settings under the same lighting at night on December 13, 2008.  This is the first year in quite a while that I didn't use garland as part of the decoration.  Also for the first time ever, I used 5 strands of LED lights that perform 16 different effects.  Unfortunately, they only came in red, blue and green, so I also used a few strands of multicolored incandescent lights so I would also have yellow and magenta in the mix.  The LED lights are underneath most of the branches, so they perform their effects "inside the tree" while the other strands flash on the "outside" creating a multi-layered effect.  The star, an antique from the 50's given to me by my grandma, also flashes independently, although I chose all of these photos for the fact that the star was on.  I tried to capture the lighting effect with an animation, but nothing compares to seeing it in person.

Click here to see photos of Darwin under the tree.







Here are two pictures of the tree during the day.




Christmas 2006

Here is an animation of this year's Christmas tree.  It was created by arranging a series of photographs of the tree, each one with a slightly different combination of flashing lights.  This one was done at night.
Here are some other photos of the tree taken under different lighting conditions and camera settings.
I also decided to put together another animation from my daylight footage...


Christmas 2005
2005 tree flash 1.jpg (113325 bytes)  2005 tree dark 1.jpg (108022 bytes)  2005 tree long exp gleaming star.jpg (113159 bytes)  2005 tree long exp 1.jpg (120869 bytes)
2005 tree slight flash 1.jpg (120445 bytes)  2005 tree pinkish hue.jpg (117961 bytes)  2005 tree pinkish hue altered.jpg (107470 bytes)  2005 tree long exp gleaming star altered.jpg (111863 bytes)
Here is this year's Christmas tree.  I think this is one of the most full trees I've had.  It was just recently unwrapped since I got it the day after Thanksgiving and the branches were packed closely together.  I didn't even realize it was this wide until I started decorating it.  I photographed it using varying shutter speeds.  The last two photos were modified in Photoshop.  
I love to pack my tree with lights.  I put about 10 strands on this tree, all independently flashing.  It's one big light show.  I wish I could capture the experience better, but you can get an idea of what it's like by watching my movie...

Click here to see a movie of the tree and its flashing light display.


Christmas 2004

2004 tree best focus lights sharper cropped.jpg (118969 bytes)  2004 tree best focus lights sharper cropped negative.jpg (118942 bytes)  2004 tree best focus lights sharper cropped curves effect.jpg (129437 bytes)  2004 tree crazy effects.jpg (131876 bytes)  
Here are some pictures of my Christmas tree from 2004.  The first photo shows a normal view.  The next two were modified in Photoshop.  The last photo was not only taken in an unusual way, but was also modified in Photoshop.

Christmas 2003

2003 tree lights make stars.jpg (145043 bytes)  2003 brian and i.jpg (126254 bytes)
Here is this year's Christmas tree.  Brian and I pose for pictures before attending our 10-year high school reunion.

Christmas 2002

2002 tree.jpg (121607 bytes)
Here is a photo of this year's tree during the daylight.

Christmas 2001

2001 tree.jpg (149521 bytes)  2001 tree light.jpg (143047 bytes)  2001 snowman.jpg (134009 bytes)  2001 snowman side.jpg (133283 bytes)  2001 sweeties angel.jpg (144681 bytes)
Above are two photos of the tree, one at night and one during the day.  The next two photos are of a snowman I built in the backyard.  The last photo is Sweeties wearing a halo.  She passed away in the spring of 2004.  My mom used this picture on her Christmas cards during the year of 2001.

Christmas 2000

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This was one of my first experiences with digital photography.  I had forgotten I took these photographs until I was looking in my backup files for an old picture of Frank and accidentally came across them.  They are taken with the free camera I got from joining Earthlink, but some of them really turned out interesting.

Christmas 1998

darwin and sweeties.jpg (109916 bytes) 
Darwin and Sweeties.
This year's tree was sprayed with fake snow.  The photo isn't very good though.

Christmas 1995

1995 tree.jpg (140084 bytes)  1995 icicles.jpg (143924 bytes)  1995 icicles 2.jpg (146543 bytes)
I was now in my own home, so this time I have a larger tree displayed in the living room.  The other two pictures are some icicles against a crisp winter sky.

Christmas 1992?


Christmas 1990

1990 tree.jpg (170328 bytes)  1990 snowman.jpg (118531 bytes)
Here is another tabletop tree.  This one is a lot fuller and shapely.  Here is a snowman I made in our front yard.

Christmas 1989

1988 snowman.jpg (139299 bytes)  1988 heather and sweeties.jpg (121137 bytes)  1989 tree.jpg (130457 bytes)
I think this is the first snowman I built all on my own.  The second picture is of mother and daughter Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Heather O' Halloween and Sweeties Mc Pea.  Unfortunately, both are now deceased.  The third picture is of the first Christmas tree of my very own.  It was in my bedroom at my parents' house.  It was such a cute, tiny little tree that it could fit on top of my desk!

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