Shooting Challenge: X-Ray Christmas Gifts

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Lights. Bows. Wrapping paper. Fruit cake. Unconditional love. Drunken Santa. All of these things mean Christmas. But more than any of that, gifts mean Christmas. And for this week's Shooting Challenge, we want to see your coolest gifts...through the wrapping.

The Challenge

Take a photo of a wrapped Christmas gift. Take a photo of the same gift, unwrapped. Then, overlay the unwrapped image on top of the wrapped image.

Basically, show us an x-ray view inside one of your wrapped Christmas gifts.

The Technique

The photo work itself is easy, as is the post production.

Just lock down your camera on a tripod. Set your exposure to manual. Take a photo of the wrapped gift (you may want to mark its spot). Then, move the wrapping out of the way and take a photo of the unwrapped gift in the same spot.


In post production, combine these two images. Feel free to play with effects, to make it look like a real x-ray or not. But no matter what you do, you'll probably want to stack one image on top the other and adjust the opacity - basically making one of the images see-through. From there, it's just a matter of tweaking contrast and doing additional blending to customize the look as you want it.

Oh...and another could of course take one long exposure, start with a wrapped gift, unwrap it quickly and then replace it with the unwrapped gift. No promises about the photo quality, but this might be the most fun way to try it.


The Example

Our lead shot is by flickr's ckelly. Don't you wish you could know what this gift is?!? I do. But we'll never know because ckelly didn't give us an x-rayed version. And that's a travesty.

The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, Dec 26th at 11AM Eastern to with "Christmas Gift" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameGift.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameGiftWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.