Sunday, January 4, 2015
Making Memories: Our Christmas Eve Open House #NikonMOMents
One of my most-anticipated annual traditions is the Christmas Eve Open House. When I was a kid, Christmas Eve was one of my favourite nights of the year. Mom would make appetizers and sweets and friends would drop in to visit and enjoy tea or drinks. I loved the Christmas tree, the visitors, the tasty goodies and the nearness of Santa's arrival.
I was thrilled when it was once again our turn to host the Christmas Eve Open House this year. Of course, there is a lot of preparation involved - cleaning, planning appetizers and baking cookies. It's always a matter of achieving your goals for the evening without tiring yourself out so much that you won't enjoy your guests. I think we usually manage to finish our list of chores about the time guests are expected at the door. I took this picture of Ace, above, right in that beautiful moment when the house is ready and nobody has arrived yet.
It was a busy day, but I made sure to snap some photos as it progressed. I always think it's nice to have recorded memories of special family moments. As a Nikon Mom, I also want to share a few tips about how to use your digital SLR camera to your advantage on occasions such as Christmas Eve.
Earlier in the day, I photographed the lovely sugar cookies that my daughter and her cousin helped to make and decorate. With plenty of natural light available by the window, this is my favourite kind of photo to take. All that's needed is a couple of moments to arrange your goodies on a table by the window. Easy peasy.
Once evening hits and the natural light is no longer available, things become slightly more complex. Sure you can use a flash, but that's not my preference. I'd rather capture some of the ambiance in the room from lighting and candles. Fortunately the Nikon D3300 makes it easy to photograph any occasion in any lighting. While the manual setting might seem intimidating at first, once you learn a few simple adjustments it's really a lot more fun than using auto. A simple touch of the camera's "i" button allows you to adjust features such as the ISO sensitivity to get more light. While I normally keep the camera at an ISO of 100, it can be set up to 12800 or even Hi1. It takes me back to pre-digital days when I would buy higher ISO film to photograph concerts and events. The higher you go, the more light you can get (but your subject also gets a little grainier).
You can also adjust the camera's "exposure compensation" from -5 to +5, with +5 being the brightest. This is another way to grab some extra light for your subject, as I did for this photo of my daughter in her party dress. Let's face it, there are a myriad of camera functions you simply can't access with a cellphone cam.
If you just don't feel like figuring all that out, one of my favourite features of the Nikon D3300 is the Guide mode. You simply turn the dial to "Guide" and then select "Shoot." From there you can pick "Advanced operation" and choose from pre-set options such as "capture reds in sunsets," "take bright photos" or "take dark (low key) photos." The camera takes care of the programming for you. That's always nice.
Then you can capture a few quick photos of all your great friends and family before sitting down to have a chat and some treats yourself. I like to do a round of picture-taking when guests are first settled with their drinks, so I can be sure I've caught those special memories "on film" right away. (It's easy to forget later when you are enjoying the company!)
I also try to capture the important moments of the night, not the least of which is the emergence of the Christmas cookies!
And that moment when the kiddos change into their fresh, new Christmas pajamas.
And, of course, when a (very funny) uncle reads "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" before everyone heads off to bed to await Santa's visit. (And that's when Mommy finally gets to put on her fresh, new Christmas pajamas!)
I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! Did you capture your special moments in pictures?
Disclosure: I am part of the Mom Central Canada Nikon MOMents team and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.