Showing my Glow, 2011 style

A Christmas Miracle happened on Friday night. I’ve been trying to get a good shot of Garrett in front of the Christmas tree since the day after Thanksgiving when we decorated. Every time I try, he runs around and acts like a crazy man and I wind up with blurry hot messes for photos.

But then… on Friday night, you’ll never believe what happened.

My son asked me to take his picture in front of the tree.

Unprompted. Without any warning. Out of the blue clear sky.

He just said, “Take my picture in front of the tree, mom!” and you’ve never seen a big girl scurry around gathering up camera cards and lenses so fast. Without a word my husband followed my cue and ran to turn off the all the lights in the house. And just like that, I finally was able to take some night time shots of him in front of the Christmas tree.

Christmas 2011 from (1 of 20)

He did so great, and let me snap snap snap all sorts of pictures of him beside the tree. I was so happy to be getting these impromptu shots that I didn’t even care that his hand was covered in blue paint from preschool. At least he was not wearing a graphic Disney t-shirt this year!

Christmas 2011 from (2 of 20)

Then he tried to eat one of my Smores ornaments.

Christmas 2011 from (3 of 20)

And when I yelped he gave it a kiss instead.

Christmas 2011 from (4 of 20)

Silly sweet boy.

Christmas 2011 from (6 of 20)

I even tried to recreate the infamous glowing Christmas tree pinterest picture from last year. Even with the exact same lens and settings from last year this year’s image came out a lot different. The only difference is a newer, fancier camera. What a difference it makes. Much better, I think! Not so grainy and blown out and blurry.

Christmas 2011 from (7 of 20)

For a reference, here is a side by side of 2010 and 2011 tree pictures:



That’s a pretty significant difference, right? Like I said, exact same settings, exact same 1.8 50mm lens. Exact same number of lights on the Christmas tree. The ONLY difference is that the 2010 photo was taken with a Canon T1i and the 2011 photo was taken with a Canon 60D.

For the tutorial on how to create photos like this for yourself, CLICK HERE.

To all those professional photographers out there who get offended when people ask you what type camera you own let me say this– “PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTT.”

There is no doubt that taking a good photo involves skill and practice and talent. HOWEVER. From what I’ve seen as my photography hobby has progressed over the past year, a nice expensive camera sure doesn’t hurt matters. There is a marked difference between the amount of editing I feel that I need to do now than I did when I was using my T1i. My pictures are all SO much brighter, and nailing the exposure is not nearly as hard. I was talking with my friend Lucy of LucyInspired about this just yesterday. She downgraded cameras to save some money after her nice Nikon got stolen, and has struggled with picture quality ever since. I knew I wanted to upgrade the day I used my dad’s T3i. I took the same photo with the same settings and could tell a remarkable difference in the brightness of the pictures instantly on the LCD screen playbacks!

I was even impressed by this picture that I took of Christmas lights in a basket in broad daylight.  The brightness is amazing.

If you are struggling with dark photos from your camera and you are getting discouraged because your pictures don’t turn out like professional photographer’s pictures don’t beat yourself up and give up on photography. Different cameras produce different images. The better the camera, the better the quality of photo. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad about your camera, either! I just feel the need to throw it out there because I feel like it needed to be said. I’m sure if I went out and bought the most expensive camera Canon makes I would tell an even bigger difference in SOOC image quality. It should also be said that investing in a good quality lens will make a huge difference in your pictures, too. I have noticed that I can’t seem to get a good sharp focus on my stock lens that came with the camera. No matter how hard I try they are all a little bit fuzzy. But when I put the Tamron 2.8 28-75mm lens on my camera and hold really still, the focus is incredible. Now I just need to work on my shaky hands. I have the worst problem getting good focus on photos that I take by hand.

So, there’s my camera rant tips for this holiday season. :) Again, Disclaimer: I’m NOT a professional photography. Just an average mamarazzi who likes to get good pics of my kid.

And, as a mamarazzi side note… Will you LOOK at how much taller Garrett is beside the tree this year?!?? He’s growing up so fast! :sob Somebody hold me.


I’m linking this post up to these fabulous parties:

Blogging Around the Christmas Tree at Five Days Five Ways
Christmas Tree Link Party at Thrifty Decor Chick
The Inspired Room Christmas Home Tours






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Speak Your Mind



  1. Lindsay Butler says:

    I have a Nikon D3000, and tried so hard my pictures all turned out really dark, grainy, and overall really really crappy!! I have my ISO up as high as it goes, my shutter speed at 1/30th and I used a tripod. Any chance you know what I am doing wrong??? I would LOVE some good tree pictures.

    • If you’re not wanting grain you should try lowering your ISO. A high ISO adds so much digital noise. I’d suggest making your f-stop/aperture lower to increase the light you let in and keep your ISO in the 400 range. Good luck hope this helps!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Seriously Canon should pay you for this! I’m totally upgrading my Rebel to the 60D now.

  4. Hey Lindsay! What is your aperture setting? Mine was at 1.8 for those pictures on my blog. That let in a ton of light so I got some bright pics out of the deal. I also has to get closer to the tree to get my son to not be too dark. I took some pics from further away and he was too dark to see. Move around to different spots and play with the lighting.

  5. Lindsay Butler says:

    If aperture is the Fstop, then mine was at 4.5. Now reading up on aperture!!! thank you! As you can tell I am very new, but is trying to learn!


  6. Yes! Aperture is the same as Fstop. :) You’re doing great!

    If you can’t get your fstop any lower than 4.5 (some lenses just won’t go any lower) you can accommodate for that by lowering your shutter speed even further– down to 1/15 or so. Keep going lower until your picture brightens up. But yeah, that will definitely require a tripod and maybe even a self-timer to reduce camera shake.

  7. These pictures are both amazing, but you are totally right. The one this year is just brighter and clearer.

    And I need to learn how to use my camera. I tried to take a photo of my tree yesterday using your instructions and settings. It didn’t go well. I couldn’t even figure out what some things meant. Need to read my manual. Like, now.

  8. Aw sweetie your shots look awesome!!! You’ve got a cutie-pie there too, what a handsome young man!

  9. Seriously, I have a 20D and I’m amazed at how much better pictures are, even with the same lens. I’ve never understood why professional photog’s care when people ask what equipment they have. Psh.

    Anyway — beautiful beautiful pictures! I’m still trying to capture the moment, but just like Garrett, my boys are CRAZY every time I try.

  10. The difference is most likely due to a newer and improved sensor. The T1i has a 16 mp sensor and the 60D has a newer and improved 18 mp sensor. I doubt the megapixels really make any difference, but I’m sure the newer one is more sensitive and handles light better.

  11. faith ( Not telling my real name) says:

    Hello Beth, You are doing great in your pictures…

    It is remind me look like spot different game if you get it an a idea…

    There is other way to make pictures tree bright that I did found a website to share with you:

    Yes, It is in other way to take it pictures and hope it is help to other people to use this website also too…

  12. I am not a photography and know nothing about cameras other than point and shoot but I must say these are amazing and I only wish I could get my tree to look this amazing. I While your technical side loves the newer photo better, the 2010 is beautiful with a glow of almost Christmas nostalgia embedded in the photo. The photos of your son are beautiful, he is certainly a cutie and how nice that he actually wanted to pose with his Christmas tree. High five to you, you managed to capture not only amazing photos but they have feeling in them that can be felt while looking at them and made me almost feel like I had a nice visit in your home. Thanks for sharing your Christmas.

  13. I love the Photo from 2010, I think it is art and each person see’s it differently! God speed for your heart with a growing boy! Mine will be 5 in a month and I want to put myself in fetal position and cry! 😉

  14. Too cute for words!!

  15. Hi, I am new here, visiting from Inspired room and omgosh I love this picture! I recently bought a nikon 5100 and am trying to figure out the thing! I would love to have a picture like this of my tree but just can’t seem to do it. ugh. Great job! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Hi Beth..I just found your blog this morning and couldn’t wait till it got dark so I could try
    You were right on. ss 1/30, f 1.8, iso was set on high and used my 50mm lens. Turned out perfect! Grand children are visiting this weekend and I can’t wait to try this with them in front of the tree. THANKS so much. Love following you!

  17. Yes! Thank you! haha, I’ve been getting so discouraged about my photography because I feel like I can’t take ANY close-up photos because they get so blurry!
    I’m starting an Etsy shop, and my pictures just aren’t coming out like I want them…and close-ups are a big deal on Etsy!
    I am starting to play with the aperture a little more, and hopefully some will come out better. I tried a similar setting with my little girl and the christmas tree…you can check it out on my blog, if you like. :) Thanks for sharing!

  18. Wow these photos are stunning! Thanks for the insight on how it was done.


  19. Both pictures look great, but I definitely see a difference! I’ll be getting a 1.8 50 mm for Christmas I hope, and I’ll be trying this picture ASAP!

  20. That is one of the most precious pictures, especially, the side by side a year apart.

  21. This was wonderful!!! So cool that he actually “asked” you to take pictures of him! They turned out GREAT! Your tree looks amazing and your son is a doll! I’m so glad I found you through the Christmas Home Tour Linky! You have a new follower.

  22. He’s adorable and great photos!

  23. Oh my goodness, I just pinned this picture on Pinterest. I love it. It reminds me of my boys when they were that age. Thank you for sharing.

  24. So darling! But actually I like both versions of the picture. The one taken last year just had a glowy feel–and the fairy touch to the blur! Yeupppp, I like the old one!

  25. Oh my – Beth, these pictures are PRICELESS. They really caupture the wonder of the holiday thru a child’s eyes. Love love love….and I completely agree about the camera. I don’t have a good camera and when I look at pictures I take, I am always disappointed :(

    Thanks for sharing these pictures with us.

  26. Beth, I’m setting it up tonight! Will see what I can come up with! you are such an inspiration!!

  27. No doubt, these pictures are just beautiful and your son is adorable. What memories you captured. 😉
    Agree, agree, agree about the camera/lens. I’m a Nikon girl, but we can still be friends. Haha.
    Funny, I posted a tutorial on how to NOT take bad pics of your tree (Lol) and linked to The Inspired Room, also. (That’s how I found you. So glad I did. Your blog is fantastic and what a gorgeous home!!! Can’t wait to dig in. I know I’ll be finding some good stuff! 😉

  28. Briana Pascual says:

    I don’t even know you, but I like you.

  29. I know this is from last year, but the first picture you took was grainy because your ISO was up so high. Instead set it to something reasonable like 800, open your shutter the whole way and set your camera to APERTURE priority. (A on the dial) Try that instead.

  30. The wall color looks different too, which if lighter, can make a difference as well. Stunning pictures all the same!!

  31. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing issues with your blog. It appears as though some of the written text within your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Thanks

  32. I constantly emailed this website post page to all my friends, because if like to
    read it afterward my links will too.

  33. Thank you sooooo much! I’m a mamarazzi too and all I want is nice pictures of my kids without the expense ALL the time. Sometimes I just want them in front of our Christmas tree. I was discouraging when I bought my Rebel XS with my first baby. I think it’s time for an upgrade. Thank you for the tips.


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