#1 ‘Christmas Decorations’


Theme:ย Christmas Decorations

A nice obvious one to be kicking off with but how can you interpret it?

You may want to shoot a bauble on the tree with the background blurred, you might even get a nice clever reflection in a shiny bauble.

I personally love bunches of small lights and will have a go at them.

Why not head into your town or city and share with us what your part of the world looks like at this festive time of year.

Maybe you’ve got a story behind a certain decoration, your child made it or your departed grandparent and that’s why it’s the favourite on your tree. Things like that show that thought has gone into your image and it’s about more than the angle you shoot from… that comes after.


This needs to stay family friendly so when I say ‘anything goes’ I’m referring to the content and how you choose to interpret the theme. Please, no nudity orย anything that could be deemed offensive. I don’t went to be having to approve images before you upload them so I’m trusting you all.

Feel free to edit the photos in post production but please let us know if you did. It’s hard for someone starting out to aspire to great shots that I know couldn’t be achieved without a little editing.

Photos taken before January are not allowed, I want you out taking fresh photos! If you join this page later though feel free to add more images at any time ๐Ÿ™‚

Please TAG your images as follows. I want to see Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO numbers please as well as whether you used tripod or flash. This is purely so we can all learn from each other. Also I like a description of the image, why you chose it, what it’s of and any backstory that helps us fully enjoy it.



Here’s a few ideas I quickly found using the method I explain in the inspiration post. Well actually they all came from 500px so thanks if they’re your photos, they’re truly inspiring!



As promised here’s a how to video to explain how you can shoot great Christmas tree decorations.

I’m actually going to send you over to Digital Photography School as I came across this inspiring tutorial just now and thought it pointless to try to recreate it. I may pop back in here and try to shoot a video for you but let me see how I get on with the other themes first.

So that’s the first one. Obviously with it being a January challenge and you possibly taking your decorations down just before then I’ll let you sneak this photo in early, but only this one!


Get posting!

It’s over to you!

So anytime now you can start postingย your ideas below and any questions you have.

At any time through January you can post your final image and hopefully we’ll get a good selection flowing down in the comments below. Feel free to comment on others’ work and please as stated above give us a bit of commentary to go along with your image and the camera’s settings.


  • Mim

    Practice time. Shot with cannon 500d+50mm, ISO400,f1.8, ss 1/20. Merry Christmas

    • Beautiful. Shot on a tripod with no flash then?

      • Miriam

        No tripod as forgot it at home. No flash either. Sadly don’t get notifications of your comments.

    • Darren Goodall

      That looks great

      • Yes Darren, miriam set the bar high didn’t she.

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  • Darren Goodall

    Hi guys , the photo challenge, decorations.
    Used my 50 D with a 50 mm lens on the front end.
    using a tripod, camera setting were set
    for a cloudy day,
    ISO, 100
    Shutter, 1 Second,
    Aperture, 2.5
    The decoration are inside my home, the wife being from Doncaster and me an Aussie, she still enjoys the idea of a English Christmas, not 35 degrees as we have had on occasions.
    I have focused on the snow cone, the snow man forehead, is my focal point can anyone make out other items?

    Love shallow depth of field work.
    Thanks guys and happy new year all

    • Brilliant Darren, thanks for kicking us off although you do have a head start

      • Darren Goodall

        Hi Adrian, I liked the cloudy day setting best, don’t know why it just looked better

        • Steve Reeves

          I agree, the cloudy setting usually makes things look warmer in tone – that’s a good tip.

        • Good answer, I’m happy if you’re happy, just checking you hasn’t left it in by accident

    • Miriam Speidel

      Wow! That’s lovely! Such soft light.

    • Robbie

      What a warm and inviting shot. The soft light reminds me sitting next to fire on a winter evening:) wonderful!

      • Yes Robbie. Darren will tell you that’s why he likes the cloudy setting on white balance, it warns everything up.

  • Dianne

    Here is my post for January 1
    Sony A7 FE 28-70 shot in jpeg fine
    ISO 6400
    Shutter: 1/15s
    Flash – No
    Tripod – Yes
    Exposure Auto
    Metering – Multi-Seg
    Focal: 70mm
    WB – Auto
    No post processing except reducing to 80% quality half size using Capture One

    • Great job Dianne, and thanks for detailing it like I asked. It’s lovely and sharp.
      Off to the next one for you

    • Darren Goodall

      Nice shallow depth of field and sharp shot.
      ISO 6400, it’s not ” grainy”
      On Christmas Day at home I had my camera on ISO6400 and they were shocking.
      Yours is nice and sharp.
      Great job.
      Cheers Darren

      • You’re dead right Darren it’s impressive how well Diannes Sony performs, maybe she’ll convert us

  • Steve Reeves

    OK, happy new year all, here’s my attempt for challenge 1. No real story behind the image, just wanted to do something a little different around sweet wrappers and came up with this!

    Shot on a Canon 60D in manual mode and manually focussed
    1/8 sec at f/22 with an 18-135mm EF lens
    with a tripod
    and my 430exII external flash from an overhead viewpoint.

    I did some post work in Photoshop, cropping, adding the iris blur and some colour balancing/warming. I did actually have the whole tin showing at one point with some empty sweet wrappers around the base but I ended up cropping that out to get what I think is a better balance to the pic.

    • Great original idea Steve. Is this what you tell the missus when she asks if you’ve been pinching the sweets, ‘no the angel took them again!’
      If you don’t mind my suggesting I think I’d have masked out the top of the angel’s head and wings to keep them in focus but the blur works really well.

      • Steve Reeves

        thx Adrian, yeah that sounds like it would have been a good idea!

  • Andy Duffy

    Hi Guys

    Here is my first attempt. I wanted to capture our Christmas Tree in the reflection of a bauble (as it had 5 sets of lights on it). I tried a few shots and wasn’t very happy with the results so I placed the blue tacked the bauble to my iPad so I can also catch a reflection there too. It still looked a bit dull and the reflection had the camera in it and it looked a bit messy so Rebekah and I stood either side of the camera which I think helped a little bit.

    I used a tripod and used a remote shutter release as some of my practice shots were quite long exposures – I didn’t use any extra light.

    This image was shot at F7.1 with a 2 second exposure and the camera set at 100 iso. I did shoot in raw and I adjusted the white balance a tiny bit in iPhoto. Other than that the shot is straight off the camera.

    • Great idea Andy, love it! I’m just wondering too what it would have looked like with an image coming up from the ipad, you’re getting me thinking now.
      Nice one mate ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Steve Reeves

      Like the bauble – love the colour of the shot.Yeah that’s a good idea with the ipad – made me think to use the ipad as a way to create backdrops for close up shots (ie my mushroom yesterday was taken against a black backdrop at home but I could have used a “foresty” backdrop – was thinking of experimenting with printed backdrops but I think I’ll try it with ipad first – be easier! The ipad will be well out of focus so no chance of seeing pixels I’d imagine.

      • I’m with you Steve, I think Andy’s got us all thinking now!
        … And that’s the beauty of a challenge like this eh.

  • Darren Goodall

    Great idea with the reflection, someone told me to try and zoom in from as far away as possible with things like baubles. Then you may not be as visible in the shot. None the less it looks great.
    Cheers Darren

  • Hello everyone, I came across this site looking for a photography competition I could enter. I’d be really interested in your comments and opinions. I snatched this shot of my border terrier snuggling under the tree lights when we were in the middle of dismantling everything yesterday. As it was a snatched shot I didn’t use tripod but disabled the flash and used F5, 1/50 sec exposure and increased the ISO to 3200. It was a little grainy so I reduced the noise in elements. It makes me smile and a friend has suggested it would make a good Christmas card for next year!!

    • Steve Reeves

      lovely shot – did the lens flares/spikes come out naturally? Goes to show not to be afraid of high ISO settings! It would be an ace xmas card I think. Lovely one.

      • Yes Steve, we can all expect a card from Lynne next year

    • Dianne

      Hi Lynne – great capture! I love the textures with the soft lighting. It is interesting with the flares off the lights in different directions on the left and right (ever so subtle).

    • Hi Lynne, great to have you on board! This is a lovely fun shot, I couldn’t imagine my golden retriever laying still for that. It makes a nice change too and by the sounds of it you left it as late as me (packing away).
      As you asked for feedback the only thing I’d have tried would have been to try to get some of the lights around and in front of his face but as you were snapping an action shot I fully understand it’s not easy. Good angle and crop though and I like how he’s looking away.
      Great photo and yes use it for a card next year.

      • LynneO

        I did try to move the lights more around his chest but he was threatening to bolt so I just left them!! Think I’ve peaked to soon – I should have used this for the light challenge!!

        • Haha, too late now ๐Ÿ˜‰
          I’m encouraged to hear that you at least considered the lights around the front and you did right to get what you could. I must say I came back to your image on my computer (rather than phone) and it looked brighter anyway.
          So what are you doing for lights then?

  • Thanks Steve and yes the light spikes were natural

  • Miriam Speidel

    Since none of our decs made it out of the loft this year since we were away and only one never got packed away last year, I had to be a bit creative here….
    50mm lens, f3.2, 1/200, ISO100

    • A beautiful image Miriam and your settings are spot on. This could be another Christmas card image

    • LynneO

      I love this image. I would make a great card which I would buy for my mum, robins are very close to her heart. I love the frost on the branches

      • Totally agree ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Miriam Speidel

        If you’re into art and crafts feel free to make a card out of it Lynne ๐Ÿ™‚

        • LynneO

          Thank you Miriam, that’s really kind of you

    • Miriam, have you seen Monika’s photo above? A similar image well taken. She’s from Poland so you should go make her feel welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ok, well I’m surprised no-one has moaned at me yet for not submitting my photo, so here it is. I literally was taking this as Rach had half the decorations down ๐Ÿ™ How can I tell my kids off for doing their homework at the last minute eh! Rather than explain what I did in this comment I’ve created a post for you here – http://slrcoaching.com/?p=2693 but here are two that I chose. The cropped one was set up as follows:
    ISO 100
    1.3 seconds
    Show with my 50mm lens from a tripod but with no extra lights.

    You’ll have to check out my post to see the settings of the other one and you’ll see it looking not so good before I edited it, I think you’ll find it helpful ๐Ÿ™‚

  • LynneO

    I love this image, I like the depth of field especially. The how to post was really interesting too

  • Anne Coles

    So, I really enjoyed challenge #1 and couldn’t decide which sparkly Christmas picture to use, so here are my three favourites…
    I was really excited to give my new 50mm lens a go and wanted to incorporate some Bokeh (out of focus lights) too so the shallow depth of field it gave me was really handy ๐Ÿ™‚

    So my settings
    Picture 1 – Gold Star
    f/2, 1/400, ISO-1600

    Picture 2 – Red Bells
    f/2, 1/640, ISO-6400

    Picture 3 – Box of Baubles
    f/2, 1/640, ISO-6400

    • Anne Coles

      Sorry, this one didn’t upload properly!

    • These are great Anne! I especially like picture 2, do you know why? There’s less going on. I think it’s like having white space on a web page, it’s easier on the eye to focus on one thing, there’s really nothing else drawing my attention.
      On the settings, is there a reason why you had the shutter and ISO so high? They would both balance each other out so could come right down and give you a better quality image (high ISO will never give as good quality as low).

      I wouldn’t question some on here who I don’t know so well but as you’re a student of mine I know you won’t mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Really great shots though Anne, picture 2 especially is real cracker and I’m looking forward to seeing more from you!

    • Anne Coles

      Hi Adrian! Yes, I like that one too, the kids started helping as I went along so more and more glitz was added!!
      The ISO was a mistake, the light kept coming and going on the day I took them so I upped the ISO and forgot to take it back down. Had plenty of room to play with the shutter speed so totally agree, I could have brought it all back down had I realised.
      Thanks for the feedback ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Blaming the kids now are we, shame on you, lol. It’s great that they’re getting stuck in, I just get Owen to help with my macro shot.

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  • Debs Cook

    I’m uploading just the first one as I’m having a nightmare with my file sizes!

    f/1.8, 1/200, ISO – 400.

  • Debs Cook

    No idea why my post is showing as “guest” but anyway this is my shot.. f/1.8, 1/200, ISO – 400

    • You couldn’t have been logged in right, not to worry.
      These are gorgeous! very dreamy.
      Were you on a tripod? If so the only thing I’d have changed is bring the ISO down and slow down the shutter to balance it, but if you were hand held that makes sense. Not that it’s a criticism, the shot looks lovely, just a little tip to keep the ISO as low as possible with dark shots like these ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Robbie

      Beautiful shot! I’m going to use your settings to try and recreate this effect! Love it!

      • That’s what I like to see, go for it Robbie.

  • Robbie

    I’m determined to finish this challenge and it’s giving me a bit of grief because I’ve procrastinated and nobody has Christmas decor up anymore. I snapped this shot at a store selling discounted Christmas stuff (I didn’t have my camera so I used my iPhone). I used a flash, cropped it and pulled the contrast, highlights, temperature and shadows way up and lowered the tint (on iPhoto). I honestly don’t know what I’m doing when I edited I just thought it looked cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m learning a lot from reading your posts and your pictures! Thank you for posting!

    • Hey my man Robbie, great for keeping up and that was a quality idea going to the store lol!
      Much of what you do in photoshop is trial and error so nothing wrong there, well done… Although I can’t make out what it is lol! Creative art ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Ok, I know it’s 28.01. but I still have my christmas tree at home :)). It’s not so unusual in Poland. Here is my first attempt. To be honest: I borrowed dslr for this challenge and… lost the manual of the camera (how great is that ;)). So everything there was trial and error and I’m open for any suggestions :).
    ISO 200
    on tripod

    • Brilliant Monika, not much I can add to improve that! The colours are true and vibrant, the focus is sharp and the subject is lovely too.
      Come on, I am looking forward to seeing more ๐Ÿ™‚
      By the way, Miriam on here is originally from Poland too, some of her photos were taken there as she was back for Christmas. Are you there Miriam? Come introduce yourself!

  • Hereward gas

    maybe not christmas decorations but hey ho
    f4 35mm focal length and 1/160

    • No problem there mate, you can get away with that.
      Great photo taken really well. I love the crop and you were down at the angle I’d have shot from too so yep, you’ve done well mate.

  • Hereward gas

    f3.5 35mm focal length and 1/160

    • Yep, I like that one mate. A nice simple photo executed well. Nice crop too.

  • Hereward gas

    f3.5 35mm focal 1/160

    • Hehe, who else zoomed in to see Tony in the reflection!
      Nice one. I can see your light on it’s stand too so bonus points for that ๐Ÿ˜‰
      It’s always hard balancing the light right for a shot like this as I want to say the flash could have been stronger but then you’d have lost the glow from the tree light. This is where there’s not a right or wrong way to shoot it really, it’s all down to preference.
      Well done mate, you’ve been busy…. but don’t tell me your tree is still up!

  • Hereward gas

    that should be all folks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ali Nicolson

    A Year later
    Book in front of Christmas tree.
    ISO 100 50 mm f/1.4 1/5 sec tripod
    Took one large book and placed on coffee table in front of Christmas tree. Blue tacked pages together and put some blue tack in the middle of the gap between pages and then stuck the joined pages into it to hold in heart shape.Used two coasters to rise one side of the book up to stop pages leaning to one side. Focused on front edge of book. Turned lights out in room and used iPhone torch to light leading edge of book.

    • Ali that’s fantastic and I can’t believe I’ve only just spotted your post, I need to change my disqus settings (or read my emails more).
      I love this and think it’s so creative. Did you get the inspiration from another image?

      • Ali Nicolson

        Posted it here by mistake, also put it in previous projects. I can’t take the creative credit as I’ve seen it in a photo mag. Just had fun trying to recreate it. Got a 7th in the crowd vote on the photocrowd website Christmas light contest.

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