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Capturing your Christmas Memories 2015 Edition

Someone emailed or commented on something the other day about the Christmas time-lapse I posted about last year. So I went to look for my post and I don’t see it! I must have just mentioned it on Facebook after Christmas last year. Butttttt I thought I would do a post about it this year, just in time for Christmas morning. That and I will try to add some Christmas memory capturing tips as well.

(Excuse the iPhone picture of the album shot from the 70’s but I love this shot of my mom – so young & happy 😉 She is holding a $100 gift certificate to Gayfers-remember Gayfers?! And I think I see a water ski on the couch to the right…




Photographing your family on Christmas morning should be one of those fun things – my parents didn’t take many pictures when I was young but we definitely have some great Christmas morning pictures; even some of my mom & dad before they had my brother & I. Its a tradition in my family to capture Christmas morning.


Christmas Morning Photography

How do you capture your memories and still get to be in them? Time lapse of course (considering if you don’t want to just do video) – capturing time lapse means you can either just choose a few to edit or you can create a gorgeous time-lapse video or both!

Lets start with equipment. I used my Canon 1D-X last year with my 8-15 mm fisheye attached (fixed at 15 mm). Now, although this lens does capture it all (scene wise), it does require a higher ISO due to the aperture only going to f/4. That being said, if you have a 16-35 mm f/2.8 that will give you a little more light without jacking up your ISO or even a prime lens such as a 24 mm or wider because you can open it up a bit more. I used the remote shutter shown in the amazon widget below and set it to photograph every 10 seconds (you can choose how close or far away together to snap on the remote – its pretty awesome actually).

**edited to add** I use selective focus points and use the center one, focus, fully press and take the first image and then press start on my remote. You shouldn’t have a problem with changing focus using that**

Before I post my time lapse from last year let me preface it by saying this…since you will capture several hundred images (if you are going for a good time lapse) be sure to get your settings pretty good so you get a lot right in camera. Also, batch your edits so it won’t be a big deal to edit them. For these I used Lush Basic Neutral (but increased both my Exposure & Noise Reduction in LR then copied all settings from the first image to all of them since they should be same exposure, WB, etc.-if you don’t know how to do that you can check out my actual workflow in  the Virtual Portrait Workshop or the Fall Workshop-the fall workshop will be retired soon-48 hour retirement sale on now – use Retire30 for 30% off Fall Workshop or Fall Actions). Then I batched my images in Photoshop (also available for PSE)  using Arise & Shine + Warm Spotlight from The Kansas Collection (plus a few little HDR type secrets ;). Easy Peasy right? Let’s get started. My equipment is below – the time lapse remote + my camera + my lens. Now, Nikon could be different and other camera models might be different as well-just google your particular camera model + time lapse and you should get what you need. Soooo, without further ado, here is my time lapse from this year.


For the time lapse I would maybe export at a smaller file size to cut down on the size (especially when you are using many images-this one has 500+ and I exported at around 3000 px on the longest side). Also I singled out a few to edit and put in our end of the year books (see that info HERE); those were exported at hi res as normal. The app I use for Time-Lapse is called Time-Lapse lol. You can tweak the numbers to get the length and/or speed you want your time lapse to play as within the app. I am sure there are plenty of good ones but this is simple and easy and doesn’t take up much space (go here for more info).

Time Lapse Software


My settings for these was 1/200 (to freeze action as much as possible), f/4, and ISO 4000. Yes, 4k! Be sure to know your camera’s limits but don’t be afraid to get some grain in there-these are Christmas memories, not fine art. If your house is darker that is just how it will be. Want to get a nice moody black and white or film look? Convert them to black and white…I used Mono from the Lush Basic Collection for Lightroom…


Use the light…I loved capturing images of the kids with their new toys, whether I am using the gorgeous morning light outside or the light from their new iPad screens…it will be fun one day to look back and see what was in vogue for kids when they were little.


Create some bokeh with those Christmas lights…open up that lens…this was shot on my Canon 1D-X using the 85 mm at f/1.8. Want some fancy bokeh? Check out this post from a few years ago (well more than a few-I was practically a newbie 🙂

Christmas bokeh

All you lucky dogs that get snow for Christmas (which according to Ginger Zee will not be many on the East Coast due to that jet stream 😉 you can edit so rich in the snow or light and airy – just get those kids out there in it – celebrate that beauty! (Incidentally both of these images were edited almost exactly the same…Arise + Shine, Warm Spotlight, & Vivacious on the background)


And lastly, get some pictures of you with your kids – if you don’t do the time lapse thing make sure you grab some shots of you with the kids and the kids with their grandparents and great-grandfathers-life is so fleeting…capture those memories!


Time Lapse-455web

I mean this was just 5 years ago at my uncles house-my dads parents with all the grandkids at the time (we have since added) – my babies in my grandparent’s laps. My grandfather had quite the scare recently and for an extended period of time but he is well now – this picture, no matter the grain or whether the kids were smiling & looking is priceless. I spent so much of my childhood with my grandparents and loved being at their house every single moment I got. Its crazy to see them with my kids.



And Jon’s great grandmother is no longer with us but we have this Christmas picture to treasure of her forever. This was 6 years ago, I am not even sure if its in focus, but we have it and the emotion shines through.




(The one in Florida doesn’t look all that different than the one in Colorado except the actual snow <3


Want to grab those actions and presets I talked about? Click below!

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