photography

How to take photos of Christmas lights like a PRO

how do we make those twinkle lights and Christmas trees look amazing in our photos? Well, i'm here to teach you how to take amazing Christmas images that your friends will envy.

As that magical time of year is upon us i’m sure everyone wants to capture it in all its glory and share the results with their friends and families.

But how do we make those twinkle lights and Christmas trees look amazing in our photos? Well, i’m here to teach you how to take amazing Christmas images that your friends will envy.

First of all , keep in mind that you have to take the images at night/dusk, as otherwise the “magical” aspect of the photograph is not going to be as magical as you’d hope. You also need to keep in mind, that light will change fairly fast and the scene can become too dark really fast.

Use a tripod, or find something to place your camera on. Why you might ask? Well because you’ll have to come out of your automatic settings and use one of the manual ones that involves a long exposure. You can do so, by switching to the “S” or “TV” (if you’re using a canon) mode on your camera (that stands for shutter speed) and choosing a slower shutter speed (something like 1/4 of a second). This change in the setting will allow more light in the camera so you won’t end up with floating lights and no information about what they are being hanged on.

Keep in mind that using a very slow shutter speed will create some movement in your image if you have anything that is not static (cars, bikes etc).

If you don’t have a tripod already, here’s a good one for a really good price too.

To get even better shoots, after you tried the “S” mode, i’d suggest going one step further and switching to the full manual mode. Keep your shutter speed low and use an aperture of about F8, that will help you getting a sharp image from edge to edge, making sure your final result will be in focus. Apart from that, the lights will also look much better and create almost a “starry” effect.

The other important factor is setting up your ISO ( sensitivity to the light). The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the camera is to light and the brighter the image will be. Keep in mind that the higher you go with this setting, the more grain your image will have, so we don’t want to over-do it. Something like an ISO 400 would be ideal, but that again will depend on the sort of ambient light you’re using. Do a couple of test shoots and see which ones you prefer. If you’re using the tripod as i suggested, try using an Iso 100 to get a moodier shot that will definitely be sharper.

If you’re ready for one step further, try changing your white balance too. Most Christmas light are incandescent light, so setting up the WB to Incandescent or Tungsten will give them more justice. If you want a more warm feel, then try using the Daylight setting that will give an orange tone to the overall shoot. See the example below to help you decide the best WB for your final image.

Don’t stop after taking one single image. Try taking at least a couple of the same scene, since some of them might look better than others or the focus might be playing up a bit, since you’re taking images in a tricky light.

And most importantly have fun while doing it. If you went out and took some images, please leave me a comment with a link to the image you took, or feel free to ask for my help and i’ll be more than happy to assist you in taking the best Christmas image ever.

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