Tip 2: Plan your lighting
Good lighting makes the difference between a mediocre photograph and a good one. I like to use natural light, though with a high-quality artificial lighting setup I could probably do even better. Under natural light, I find that I get my best results when I position the tree in the shade on a sunny day or a bright overcast day. I bounce light back onto the tree with a set of reflectors; this creates a sense of depth. You can either buy a set of reflectors at any good photography store, or you can make your own by taping crumpled and re-flattened aluminum foil to a piece of posterboard.
Accounting for natural light, our previous setup diagram might look something like the following:
(To avoid lens flare, be sure that the camera lens is shaded from the direct sun.)
Some enthusiasts suggest shooting at night by flash, with nothing in the background. While this works in a pinch, I find that the flash-by-night approach creates an image that is too flat and too high in contrast. Compare the photographs below. The top one was taken with a black backdrop under natural daylight; the bottom one was taken at night with a flash and no backdrop.
Last modified December 27, 2004