In the spirit of Christmas and seeing everyone taking pictures of all their Christmas decorations they are so proud of this time of year I thought I would do my first Photo Tutorial on taking pictures of Christmas lights.
Christmas lights can be a little tricky to get to look nice in a photo. You finally finish decorating and you are so proud of how it looks that you want to capture it forever or share it with everyone. Nothing is more disappointing then taking a bunch of photos of your fine holiday accomplishment only to find that none of them even come close to what you envisioned showing off to your friends. I am going to explain my way through 4 common, undesired, outcomes of Christmas light photos.
1. TOO DARK & ONLY A FEW DIM LIGHTS VISIBLE
Fix: Your shutter speed is too fast. Slowing it down will make the lights show up better. If you are using a point & shoot (not an SLR) camera, what you want to do is use the “night” or “fireworks” setting. However, with any camera you need to be careful to make sure it is on a tripod on set on a table or you are going to get a blurry version of what you are looking for.
2. TOO BRIGHT, LOOKS LIKE YOUR TREE IS ON FIRE
Fix: Your shutter speed is too slow or your f-stop is too low. First try speeding up your shutter speed. (faster = less light is recorded on the image) Another thing you can try is to closing your f-stop some. A low number is allowing a lot of light to record, set it to a higher number and it will allow less light to record on the image. As with all of these suggestions, when taking these type of light pictures, always use a tripod or set the camera on something stable like a table.
3. WRONG COLOR CAST & LIGHTS BARELY VISABLE
Fix: Turn off all lights except the ones you want in the picture. If you want the tree lights to show up well, turn off the overhead lights. In the above picture, the color temperature (yes light has different colors & temperatures, perhaps I explain in another blog?) of the different lights in the room are fighting and the overhead lights are winning over the tree lights. If your camera has white balance settings, try using the “tungsten” or “incandescent” settings. Remember to keep your camera steady with a tripod or table!
4. JUST PLAIN BLURRY
Fix: This is the easiest photo to fix and yet one of the most common types of Christmas light photos. If you have read thus far, I hope you know the answer to this one! Try using a tripod or table to steady the camera. Anything around you can work as a tripod, it doesn’t have to be fancy. Try a pile of books, a chair, or steadying the camera against a wall. The shutter speed is slow enough that the slightest movement, which often we can’t even feel or see, the camera does feel and you get a picture like the one above.
Hopefully with a little practice and patience you can get the very look you envision for your holiday photos!
Please comment, share, & enjoy!
Hey, this is a great tutorial!!
You are the first person I’ve seen actually lay this out. Nice work!
Facebook helped me with the idea. As much as I love seeing everyone’s Christmas decorations. I cringe when I see photos I know how to fix! Thank you though!