This is one of those photos that’s not so much about the image, but the story behind the image. It’s a gingerbread house, and not a super fancy or extraordinary one at that, but what you’re actually seeing here is the end result of a fun project that our kids got to do with their grandparents when we went up to visit them over Christmas break. They had been given a gingerbread house kit by a friend who knew their grandchildren were coming for a visit and might want a fun project to do, and it ended up being exactly that: an enjoyable activity for, and I’m not even kidding about this, the whole family to enjoy. I realize that might seem slightly cheesy to say (and read, in your case) but it’s true: my kids had a great time assembling this decoration with their grandparents over the course of a few days. As a bit of caution to errant passers-by one of my kids put the warning phrase “Don’t eat” on top, spelled out in icing and candy. Not that anyone was in the house aside from us, but still, eight-year-olds sometimes have their own sense of logic and you have to just go with it every now and then. When I see this picture, what makes it meaningful isn’t the colors or the lighting or the composition, but the memories. And that, it seems to me, is one of the best gifts that photography has given to all of us.
I brought my D750 and 105mm f/2.8 macro lens along for the trip even though I knew there probably wouldn’t be too many opportunities to use it, but the beauty of driving instead of flying when you go on any sort of trip is that you have a lot more luggage-related wiggle room compared to flying. Though that camera and lens mostly stayed in my bag for much of our visit, I thought this gingerbread house would be a great opportunity to use and I wasn’t at all disappointed with the results. Quite the opposite, in fact. Even though this is hardly a macro photo, that’s kind of beside the point: macro lenses are great for much more than just close-ups! I couldn’t do much in the way of customizing the lighting or even the background, but I thought that if I set this confection on a small table with the fireplace in the background it would make for at least a slightly more interesting overall composition. I shot this in manual with ISO 100 and a few different apertures values with my camera firmly mounted on a tripod so as to make shutter speed more or less irrelevant.
As usual my first instinct was to shoot wide open but, of course, the depth of field I was getting was simply far too shallow even with my camera being several feet away from the gingerbread house. (That’s what you get when you shoot with a 105mm lens, after all😁) I honestly didn’t even know what to focus on–the green window trim, the colored candy on top, the roof line, or even the candy cane fence protruding from the front. F/8 kind of took care of most of those issues for me, thankfully. I focused on the big green rectangular blobs that my youngest son put on as windows and doors and enough of the house was sharp to make for a quality end result.