Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photographing a Miniature Christmas City by Department 56

In preparation for photographing a Christmas party, I visited my client's home to check out the location in advance. I do this in case there are logistical issues that need to be solved before the day of the event.

There was a second reason for the visit which consisted of a room of highly collectable Department 56 porcelain buildings that had been arranged as a Christmas city.

The display spans over 25 years of collecting and many of the items are no longer available. It is difficult to explain the scope of the display and how detailed each building and figurine is.

My task was to photograph the display while maintaining the candle light charm of the city. It would not do any good to set up flashes that over power the ambiance of thousands of tiny lights. Each lamp in the display tended to illuminate the immediate surrounding areas in tiny pools of light... just like in real life. The Christmas tree in the background actually snowed... I know it's hard to believe... Just go with me on this...

Not knowing exactly how I was going to photograph this was part of the fun. I had several theoretical plans and told the clients, Bob and John, that I was going to experiment. In the scene below, I used a long exposure and a flashlight to light paint buildings.

To get the full size of the collection, I created a mosaic from 5 photographs combined later in Photoshop.

Bob and John have strong ties to New York City  (Bob's father was a NYC fireman) so it is fitting that my favorite photograph included the iconic Empire State Building. Rumor has it that a wedding will be happening soon for them in a hotel overlooking Times Square. Congratulations to them both.

By the time I was finished shooting the display, I felt like I had actually visited a real city by helicopter. Check out the rest of the Department 56 Christmas City Gallery.