Snowman eCard with Holiday Bokeh
Photo Processing,  Photography,  Photography Projects

How to Create a Holiday eCard with a Christmas Light Bokeh for Your Friends and Family

Why not use your photography and holiday decorations to wish your friends and family a Happy Holiday Season.  In this blog, I’ll show you how to create a festive holiday eCard using your Christmas tree lights and ornaments on the tree. 

You can craft a custom message to email different groups of friends and family or post on different social media networks.

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What really makes this photography set up special is the bokeh created by the Christmas Tree lights.  I’ll show you how to set up your equipment to get this holiday bokeh effect.

eCard Ornament Ideas

Most of us have a favorite Christmas ornaments that would make a terrific subject for your holiday eCard.  You probably also have ornaments related to your hobbies (golf, photography, travel, etc.) that you could use to create an eCard for your friends with the same hobby.

My wife helps out with several dog rescue groups.  I created this eCard for her to send to her dog rescue friends.

Dog Ornament with Holiday Bokeh eCard
Dog Ornament with Holiday Bokeh eCard

Once you have the shoot set up, it’s quick and easy to swap out ornaments for different eCards to send to different groups of friends and family.

Equipment You’ll Need

  • DSLR or Mirrorless Camera
  • Use your lens with the widest aperture.  I would try to use a lens with an aperture of at least f/4.  The wider your aperture the nicer the bokeh effect.

I used an Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 micro four thirds lens (24-80mm full frame equivalent).  For the different ornaments, I shot at focal lengths between 34 – 40 mm. A nifty fifty (50mm f/1.8) would also be a good choice for this photography project.

Christmas Tree Ornament Bokeh Set Up
Christmas Tree Ornament Bokeh Set Up
  • A table to hold your ornament set up in front of the Christmas tree.  I used a wooden TV tray table.
  • Helping Hands tool clamped to the table to hold the ornament from above.  If you don’t have one, don’t worry, you can set your ornament on the table.
  • Tripod.  You might need one if your shutter speed is too low.  I was able to shoot handheld.
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Set Up

  • The key to this set up is to have your camera focused close to the subject (ornament) and your subject a good distance from the Christmas tree lights (3-4 feet).  This set up will give you the nice bokeh from the Christmas lights.
  • If you don’t have a Helping Hands tool that lifts the subject off the table, you may want to put a decorative holiday covering on your table.
  • If your subject is too dark, you can switch on or set up a light behind you.  You could also give the subject a small pop of light from a speedlight or even a flashlight.
  • You will want to get sharp focus on your subject and the lights and tree should be blurry in the background.
  • The settings I used were f/2.8 @ 1/25 of a second on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 III and Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens.
  • When you compose your photograph, don’t forget to leave room for your holiday message text.

Post Processing

  • Process the image to your liking in Lightroom, Photoshop, or your favorite photo processing tool. 
  • I found that I needed to brighten the ornaments and darken the background a bit to make the subject pop.  I used brightness / contrast adjustment layers in photoshop with a quick painted layer mask.

Adding Text to your eCard

Adding Text to a Holiday eCard
Adding Text to a Holiday eCard

Once you have the image the way you like, you can add text to the image using Adobe Photoshop.  Photoshop has a variety of fonts to choose from.  You can also change colors, sizes, and easily rearrange the text.

  • To add text to Photoshop, click on the Horizontal Type Tool in the left toolbar and drag on to the image to create a text box to enter your text.  This will create a new layer in the layers panel for that text object.
  • To change the font, click on the layer and with the Horizontal Type Tool selected, drag to highlight the text.  In the top options bar at the top of the window, select the font in the font dropdown list.
  • You can also change the font style, size, and color in the options bar using the same method as described for changing the font.  Don’t worry if the largest Font Size in the dropdown isn’t big enough. Just type the Font Size you want in the box.
New Layer for Each Line of Text
New Layer for Each Line of Text
  • I would create a new text object (layer) for every line in your message, this makes it easier to arrange the text by dragging and dropping with the move tool.

Make sure you save (File – Save As) your image in the photoshop format with the layers checkbox selected.  This way you can easily go in and change the text, font,  or color to reuse the image for a different holiday eCard.

Written by Martin Belan

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