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Photographic Special Effects with Christmas Lights

This video shows you how to take psychedelic abstract long exposure photographs of Christmas lights. You'll want to set your camera's shutter speed to to BULB mode and use your camera's pop-up flash (or external flash), then spin yourself around in front of your Christmas tree. It helps if all the lights are turned off in the room except for the Christmas tree lights.

Here are the six different tricks. There will be an image on top, and an description underneath each image.

long exposure spinning in a chair next to christmas tree lights

Spin either in a chair or while standing up. Try not to move your arm, hand, or head while doing this, because it will cause unwanted camera-shake. You can experiment moving your arm up and down or something if you want to, it just will give you a different effect.

psychedelic alien long exposure slow flash sync

Hold your camera by the lens out in front of your with your right hand, twist just like you did in the first trick, only this time take your left hand and move your camera so it zooms in and rotates at the same time. If you do this several times, you should eventually get a result where the lines will twirl around you, like you are in some type of TRON video game or something. And hey, Photoshopping your face using the Liquify tool to make you look like an alien never hurts.

Christmas Tree Lights with 6X Cross Filter

Use a star filter screwed on the front of your camera lens. This will slice and the light into thin lines. This looks cool when you twirl the filter around your lens as well because the stars will appear to be "twinkling".

Abstract Golden Long Exposure of Christmas Lights

Use manual focus, still in bulb mode, and simply move your camera around your Christmas tree while the exposure is taking place. You will end up with really techy-yet-beautiful abstract photographs that you can use in backgrounds for Photoshop projects or the like.

Zoom long exposure abstract
Put your camera on a tripod and zoom in while the exposure is taking place.
Multiple Exposure of Abstract Christmas Tree Lights long exposure

If you have a higher end DSLR (I'm using a Nikon D300s) there may be a Multiple Exposure function somewhere in the camera's menu. I like to set it to ten and then take several exposures, each shot at a different focal length.


Finally, Trick Photography and Special Effects is Now Available

There hasn't been many posts here because I've been spending most of my time writing my new e-book, Trick Photography and Special Effects  (now available at But! I plan on doing more video posts in the near future, so stay tuned.

As far as the e-book, it is similar to "The Top 5 Creative Photography Techniques" and the posts already on this blog, only with much more additional content added. It's 190 pages long and has over 400 photographs from over 100 artists around the world. It took about several months to finish it!

Below are some examples of what is in the book, but to get the whole scoop, head on over to

  • Dozens and dozens of light painting ideas with descriptions and examples of each

light painting ideas

  • How to stop taking boring images and use HDR Photography and Infrared Photography to turn any dull photograph into a dramatic hyper-realistic image that "pops" with fantastic color and depth. This is extremely useful for capturing what your eye actually sees.

HDR Mountain and skyIR Infrared Yellow Lake

  • The secrets behind turning any landscape into a "polar panorama". (This is probably the most comprehensive step-by-step guide written about this technique available today, and is worth the money of the entire e-book alone). You'll discover how to make tunnels, planets, and tunnels with planets inside of them.

polar panoramas

double droste spiral - trick photography

  • How to use the Droste Effect to twist any picture into a never-ending abyss

Droste Effect

  • Over 10 mind-bending optical illusions that you can do straight out of the camera without using any special software or equipment. You'll learn about forced perspective, transparent screens, rotated perspective, birefringence and shaped bokeh effects.

  • How to use layer-masks and blending modes in Photoshop to combine multiple photos together (mastering just this alone will give you an unlimited amount of creative ideas)
  • How to use Photoshop to create "The Invisible Man". Two different step-by-step projects are included.Invisible man Bicyclist
  • How to take beautiful Levitation Photographs and edit them from start to finish. This technique makes anyone appear to be floating, flying, or levitating in any environment. You will also learn how to add realistic shadows underneath and behind the model's body.old levitation trick photogray

Head on over to to get your copy!

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