“Christmas Carols” by Dusty Brown

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"Christmas Carols" by Dusty Brown

The holiday season has officially passed, but its now that we get to see all the great photographs that were taken during this exciting time. The use of bokeh is incredibly popular this time of year.  But photographer Dusty Brown, a newcomer to the Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group, took this bokeh shot to the next level.  In his photo, Christmas Carols, he used the bokeh lights as a backdrop and introduced a more interesting subject.

Maybe it’s because of all the pretty little lights that are around, maybe it’s because we’re trapped indoors with lower light levels forcing us to use wider apertures, but every photographer ends up experimenting with bokeh and lights this time of year.  Unfortunately, many people stop there and shoot just the light.  Interesting photos result, but rarely do we take it to the next level like Dusty.

When composing a photograph, we often think about the subject and forget about the context.  Some might wish to make the blurred lights the subject.  But there’s no follow-through.  Why not simply integrate them into the photograph as context like Dusty did here.  Context is incredibly important.  The figurines in Christmas Carols would have been impressive unto themselves.  The lighting is beautiful and the focus and use of depth of field on the figurines is fantastic.  But the element that makes this shot really is the context of the bokeh lights in the background.

We need to think of our photos as layers.  We cannot forget any of the layers as we are working to set up a photograph.  We should be asking ourselves how the background or the foreground relates to the subject.  Let Dusty’s inspiring photograph be a reminder of these elements and how they connect and how they create a complete photograph together.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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