25 December 2011

The Official Merry Christmas

Isn't it amazing how Christmas comes and goes so quickly? And I haven't even posted about my Christmas card mailing yet. But with about an hour and a half left of Christmas, I'm getting it in just under the wire.

Like last year, we used our Three Designing Women return address stamp (and the coordinating holiday set for the deer stamp on the back of the envelope). We used brown ink in the stamper and brown ink on the letter to tie the picture, paper, and envelope together.

The picture itself was the biggest challenge. Believe me, it was hard-fought. We started working on it the first weekend of December, but there wasn't a single sunny (weekend) day all month...until finally, last Saturday, we were able to sneak up on the sun, get the final shot, and pull the whole thing together. Here's an outtake from the first attempt, a few weeks ago, when we were starting to think we might have to settle for a cloudy sky:

Gosh, I love those guys. But given our plan to focus on the solar panels in the picture, the cloudy sky (and the way it made the panels difficult to see), that wasn't going to cut it. (We also used too high a film speed, so those takes were far too grainy.)

Then, last weekend, we caught a tiny bit of sun and rushed to catch it...without success. More cloudy sky.

But we stayed on high alert, and as the sun crept out again later in the day, we pounced. We had set the self-timer function on the camera to give us extra time to get into position and to take ten shots at a time so we could maximize our options. Still, though, there were times when it took longer to get the guys into position, leading to odd shots like these:

By the end of that third shoot, we had over a hundred sunny shots, which we narrowed down to the final picture.

Then we rushed to get the cards printed, finalized the letter, stamped and labeled the envelopes, signed, licked, sealed, and put the letters in the mail. (Read about how we use a spare photo card and letter each year to make a special keepsake here.)


  1. If I may offer just a bit of advice... cloudy days are the photographer's friend. The light is nice and diffuse so there won't be shadows on your subject's faces. Cloudy day + powered-down flash to brighten the faces is probably best. Here's an example of a cloudy day + flash (+ cheap reflector held by the subject, could be as simple as poster board) portrait: http://mingshan.smugmug.com/Friends/Jennifer/20727430_VpFs7R#1644764458_N47FMgp If your camera accepts it, you can also use a remote (mine was under $30) to give yourself a little more control over when the photo is taken.

  2. Agreed...we were actually hoping for the clouds to clear in front of the house (so there would be blue sky in the picture) but to stay cloudy behind the camera, but it was one or the other, and we were going for a sunny theme (emphasis on the solar panels), so those shots won out. Good tip on the remote control -- thanks!