Continuing with my look back on nine years of Christmas cards, 2009 marks the second year and the final year of doing entirely homemade cards.
While the card production was simplified from the first year (no elaborate cutting), the main image was a bit more complicated as it featured me twice.
The theme of the card was intended to convey passing the spirit of Christmas on to others. What turned out has been described as “creepy” by a dear friend because of the black gloves in the picture (although the right glove is dark blue even if it didn’t come out that way). That was certainly _not_ my intention, but my hands weren’t photo-ready that year and I needed to improvise.
My previous blog entry on the 2009 card doesn’t go into too much detail, but I used Photoshop so I could play both giver and receiver of the tiny tree. It’s nice that retailers sell trees of all sizes — I decided to use trees sized as lawn ornaments for the card. This was my first deviation from doing holiday cards focused on Chico or Northern California, but time was short that year and I still incorporated a personal touch to the design.
I again used the family Sony Cybershot for photos. I set it up on a tripod in my apartment facing a hallway wall that I thought had sufficient light. I abstained from using the flash, especially because I wanted the Christmas lights to stand out on the tree.
Unfortunately, the light in the hallway wasn’t sufficient (at least for my camera and my personal technical ability). I turned on more lights around the hallway (which opened into the kitchen/living room) and arranged a directional light on the “set.” A friend liked the noir look of one of my test shots.
I primarily focused on getting the left side of the card right — making sure the angle and presentation of the tree was correct. As the test shots below indicate, it was difficult to get everything _just_ right (especially when working with a camera timer) but I eventually got a shot I was satisfied with.
I also tried to hide the power cord connecting to the tree’s lights. I was only partially successful, as one can see a power plug hanging from my coat sleeve.
I changed coats and gloves to shoot the right side of the card. I was worried about the shadow that the arm cast against the wall, but I was pretty confident that I could use Photoshop to edit out the shadow.
After getting my shots, I used the computer to compose the primary image. I attempted shot a neutral background as a canvas, but the final product doesn’t particularly reflect that. I remember the image came together pretty quickly as there were only really three elements. That said, doing any sort of cutout of a pine tree is a painful experience (one that I’ve repeated in the 2016 card).
For the last time, I printed out the image as prints at a local store. I switched up the white cardstock for red for a little more visual pop.
I also used a printer for my message “Spreading a little holiday cheer… and wishing you a Happy New Year.” Although it was a bit tricky to align everything correctly, I liked the clarity of the printed text although I missed the personal touch of the handwritten cursive of the previous year.
I used a glue stick to attach the photo to the card. It was time consuming and I strove to make sure the image was centered correctly.
I earlier wrote that I eliminated folded cards after 2008. My memory may be hazy — I seem to recall a fold in the 2009 card because I wrote on the inside of the card. However, I think the fact that I didn’t have a great message for the card’s interior was a key reason for moving away from folded cards.
The other reason for moving away from folded cards also included the realization of the relative economy of photo cards purchased from a warehouse store, but that’s a story for the 2010 card.
By the numbers:
0 — miles traveled to photograph the card (this was the only year so far shot entirely at home, although 2010 comes close).
3 — Trees included in the lawn decoration set.
5 — Days before Christmas when I photographed the card (again, not really enough time to get everything done).
18 — photographs taken for the 2009 card.