How about Christmas cards?


I like all the festive celebration and excitement of Christmas, and truly enjoy all the colourful decorations, the lights and listening to Christmas music for a whole month.  Yes, I do like Christmas music.  I have also written about Xmas cards before.

All year long the photography social media sites on the Internet that I belong to have been filled with photos made by members, but images posted on the Internet quickly become faded memories and are easily forgotten when an hour later someone else posts theirs.

I like photographic prints. Prints have a life, whether framed and hung on a wall in our home, taped on the refrigerator, or thumbtacked in an open space in the workroom. To me a print of any size has more importance and life than a digital image on my computer or iPhone screen.

Christmas is a great time for photographers, and besides than just having fun taking pictures of anything and everything they now an opportunity to give friends and family their photographs.

I suppose that could mean a big framed photograph, but what I am writing about today is Christmas cards. Cards are easier and less expensive than framed prints, and any card of a photographer’s work is more personal as a gift than an email or little picture tagged to a text message.

I don’t want to believe that any photographer would ever be satisfied with mass produced generic Christmas cards. Personally, I want people enjoy my photography, even if it’s only as a 5×7 card.   A card to someone I care about is so much better than having my pictures left languishing as image files deep in some computer hard-drive that hasn’t been backed up.

Right now I am going through my many files from this year’s photographs selecting those I want for Christmas cards. I’ll print up different subjects and place all sorts of greetings on them. It is rare that I give the same picture to more than one person. And not all the cards say Merry Christmas. Although I like “Merry Christmas” what wording goes on a card doesn’t really matter to me. Happy Holidays, Seasons greetings, Have fun, A good New Year, and anything else I think fits a particular picture. It’s about the card, never the words.

I have written before that I always produce a new monthly calendar. My wife and I used to alternate our months.   Doing a calendar is a neat way to personally enjoy my photography, but cards are a lot more fun because they are for others to enjoy. I also make cards for all occasions, like birthday’s, Valentine’s, Mother’s day, etc., My family has come to expect me to share my photography. Sometimes it’s only a picture of something we’ve done, but if it’s a special occasion they always will get a card. Even when would I go to my granddaughter’s school Christmas concert, I always took their pictures, made a card and send it to them through the mail.

For those photographers that don’t have their own printer, it’s as easy as having a 4×5 print made at a local lab. Then get some construction paper, glue a picture on it, fold the paper, write something like Merry Christmas inside and give it away. And don’t make all the cards the same.

What would be the fun in that?

Copying Photographs and Making a New Year’s Calendar

I was given an old photograph to copy, and retouch, in time for a Christmas present, which was not a big job.  All one needs is a camera, a lens that can focus close up and a tripod. 

My client had tried unsuccessfully to use a scanner, but I think most digital cameras have a better resolution, and will make a sharper enlargement unless the scanner is one of the few, expensive, high quality models specifically designed to copy film and photographs. All I needed was to select a window in my home with indirect light, and turned off any lights that could alter the proper white balance. My advice is to select ”daylight” instead of “auto” white balance on the camera.

 I placed the photograph on the floor, and set up my tripod, and made sure I didn’t have any shadows falling on it.  I then prepare the camera for readiness by using a level against the front of the lens.

 I usually like to take several exposures that start two stops under exposed, and eventually go to two stops over exposed, a range of five stops, to ensure that I have a lot of exposure choices when I open the image in PhotoShop for editing. I also prefer to release the shutter by using the camera’s self-timer so I didn’t get camera shake.  I retouched using PhotoShop, selected a cloning tool to remove scratches, corrected the old photograph’s faded colour, sharpened the image and made a print.  As I said, it is not a big job.  You may have an old photo that is starting to fade and crack that records something of your family’s history.  Get out your equipment and use my notes as a reference and start copying them.  This is a good project for the New Year.

 Do I write about this next topic every year?  Yes, I do, if only to remind photographers that this is a good and fun project in which to partake.

 Every December my wife and I start preparing for our January calendar, and we like to start January off with a photo that sets our mood for the New Year. Readers know my wife, Linda, and I, always photograph our own monthly calendars. We generally alternate responsibility each month and January will be Linda’s turn, and that will be special because she will be using her new Nikon D300s for the first time. And as any photographer knows, it’s always exciting using a new camera.

 We like a vertical calendar format with a horizontal picture on top and numbered squares for the month underneath. We find our monthly calendars at each month. They are easy to download and print from various sites on the Internet and if I wish I could cut matt board to which I can glue calendar.  Then each month all we have to do is come up with an image to use. The plan is to share, so we will each provide six photographs to produce the calendar for the year. I am looking forward to printing lots of black and white photographs, and selecting the best from them will be enjoyable. This yearlong project will be fun and setting goals for photography is always a good thing.

 We used to go on a hunt for a calendar every December to hang on our wall for the year. There are lots of calendars out there, but many of the monthly images were weak and not up to the quality we would choose for photography to display on our wall. Yes, there is always an Ansel Adams calendar each year, but we have become very familiar with his work and wanted a change. 

 I have December’s calendar hanging and although I enjoy it (my photograph) I am looking forward to what my wife will come up with for January.  I think all serious photographers will enjoy their own photographs each month as calendars. I print my own, but for those that don’t, there are lots of good labs around and 8×11 enlargements are not expensive. You’ll have your own artwork on your wall. Or you can make more than one each month and give it to friends and relatives and let them enjoy your photography.