Winter, especially Christmas and New Year holidays are special time. Whatever adversity happens around us, the New Year holidays have an extraordinary ability to cross everything out and make you look at life in a new way, with new plans, hopes, and joys. New Year's holidays are a Christmas tree, gifts, and beautiful lights everywhere. And how we want to capture all this on a camera!
In December, even in small cities, bright decoration of holiday lights appears, and in large cities, the eyes are completely scattered from the festive illumination. How to photograph Christmas lights to convey a fairy tale, how to set up your camera, how to prepare for shooting, and what additional equipment to use. In this article, we will tell you the basic rules of holiday photography.
Table of Contents
- How to prepare for shooting of Christmas lights photos
- How to set up a camera for shooting Christmas holiday lights?
- Photography Guide to convey Christmas holiday lights
- How to make Christmas photos at home?
How to prepare for shooting of Christmas lights photos
Preparation matters a lot. The more careful it is, the more successful the result will be.
- Gather all the necessary information about the shooting location. Better to go there in advance. This will help to assess the situation - the location of the holiday lights, from which side the sun sets, which camera settings will be the most successful;
- Take all your arsenal of equipment for Christmas photos. Everything will come in handy: wide-angle, portrait, and long-focus optics;
- Do not forget about warm clothes, especially gloves, because hands quickly freeze when shooting in winter;
- If you have to take a spare battery with you, in the cold the battery is quickly discharged. If you don't have a spare, you can periodically take your battery out of the camera and warm it up in your hands and in your pocket.
- Our institute of photography says: do not be upset if the first time the shooting came out not very successful. This is an experience and an opportunity to further improve your skills. After studying photographs at home, new ideas may come up for improving the pictures, changing angles, and shooting times. All this will come in handy for your next photo hunt for New `lights.
- Another important tip for Christmas photos.: In order to convey the beauty of New Year's illumination, it is important to follow the basic steps: turn off automatic mode and the built-in flash, manually set the basic camera settings, and use exposure bracketing. If you wish, you can take a tripod or monopod with you. It is important to prepare well and be on-site at dusk. Knowing the basic rules, do not forget about experiments. More often than not, only they give the most interesting and unexpected result. And the main thing is not to give up if the photos are not impressed the first time. With experience, everything will definitely work out!
How to set up a camera for shooting Christmas holiday lights?
We will tell you what steps you need to perform in order to capture all the beauty of New Year's lights in a photograph. These are institute of photography tips:
- Disable auto mode - Automatic modes are not able to convey all the charm of New Year's lights. The choice of the model determines how bright and realistic the photos will be. As with other types of night photography, it is best to manually set the exposure. Especially when photographing large details of luminous garlands.
- Disable the built-in flash and use the on-camera - Camera flashes can greatly enhance the picture.
They allow you to control the intensity of the light flux and its direction. Most modern external flashes, even in the budget segment, allow not only changing the angle of operation but also turning the flash head in different directions.
- Use manual camera mode - institute of photography tips - Only in manual mode, you can independently set all the basic parameters of the camera: shutter speed, aperture, light sensitivity.
It is worth paying special attention to endurance. If it is too long, hand motion blur will appear in photographs.
The ideal ISO for night photography holiday lights is 400-800. Unless, of course, we are talking about a professional camera. There, the values can go up to 6000 units and above.
- Correctly adjust the shutter speed - The rule is that when shooting handheld, the shutter speed should not be longer than 1 / the focal length of the lens. For example, if the focal length of the optics is 50 mm, you can set the shutter speed to no faster than 1/50. If you set the shutter speed to 1/30 in this situation, the photo of the New Year's lights will most likely be blurred. Such a mistake is already more difficult to correct in a photo editor, and with a strong blur, it is completely impossible. So it's better to take clear photos right away. This rule is especially true for long-focus optics from 200 mm and more.
- Experiment with exposure Christmas photos - This is especially true for shooting New Year's lights at night. How the glowing garlands will look depends on the exposure settings. If you take the exposure plus, a glow will appear around the New Year's lights. With each step of decreasing the exposure, the glow will decrease.
It is always easier to correct an underexposed frame than an overexposed frame. The photograph retains more information in the shadows, and overexposed areas can be very difficult to recover. If post-processing is planned, it is always best to shoot in RAW format.
These are the basic photography tips for setting up your camera for New Year's Eve photography.
Photography Guide to convey Christmas holiday lights
The streets of most cities are decorated with colored lights at this time. Their photography is no doubt part of the Christmas photo essay. Many of you sometimes feel "cheated" when trying to catch the lights in the frame. Perhaps with this advice, it will be easier for you next time.
Take photos at night
|This is obvious, but Christmas photos should be taken at night, that is, with illumination on. Don't wait for complete darkness. As soon as the lights are on and the sun has set below the horizon, start shooting.|
Fix the camera
|Fix the camera, ideally use a tripod. But if you get a good shot and you aren't ready, then look for a surface on which to mount the camera to avoid camera instability.|
Use the remote control
|If you want to make the picture sharper, then you can block the mirror (refer to your camera manual), as well as use the remote control or at least the timer.|
Turn off the flash
|This advice is not for everyone. It is especially important not to illuminate the lights with a built-in flash or direct light from an external one, as we face two problems. First, city lights are usually too far away to illuminate them. But most importantly, what's the point of "lighting up the lights"? It's like taking pictures of them during the day! It is not visible that they are burning.|
Watch the white balance
|Of course, you can work in automatic mode if you later process your Christmas photos, although it is more practical and even better to adjust the parameters immediately during shooting to calculate the correct exposure. Select the tungsten white balance mode to avoid unwanted yellowish tints.|
Shoot RAW if you can
|Shoot RAW if you can
These are basic things that don't need to be said much but shoot RAW if you can. Night photography is "difficult" to shoot, and it is much easier to correct minor mistakes in RAW format. And while you're serious about it, do bracketing to get at least three shots with different exposures. Thus, you can be sure that one of them is the one you wanted!
Work in manual mode
|Shooting modes. It is ideal to work in manual mode, but you can also shoot in aperture priority mode.|
Take many, many photos
|Finally, take many, many photos. Try to achieve what you are looking for. This is the only way to get what you want.|
How to make Christmas photos at home?
The protagonist of the photographs with the holiday lights in the house is the tree, as it is almost always lit.
The tree and lights are part of the Christmas decoration. We are interested in photography, for example, where puppies are playing under the tree, or the family has gathered around, or just gifts that Santa Claus has just left. And we want to take a photo with the Christmas tree lights that create the atmosphere. By the way, you can share your New Year photos on our website.
3 Variants of photo shooting:
- Use holiday lights as the only light source:
- Use the widest aperture.
- Raise the ISO strongly, trying to avoid shutter speeds slower than 1/15 of a second if there are people in the photo, otherwise, they will come out blurry even when using a tripod.
- Place the subject as close to the lights as possible so that it is well lit.
- Use a different light source for Christmas photos - In this case, the background light is given by the Christmas tree lights, but we use another source to illuminate the object. This works well for taking pictures of people.
- Find a source of soft, diffused light, and hide it somewhere out of sight, but direct it towards the faces of the characters.
- If it is a strong enough source, then you can place it outside the frame. But to get the key light, a non-aggressive light that is close to the model is ideal.
- And one of the simplest options is to use the light of the mobile phone so that the phone itself is not visible.
- If you have an iPhone, you can turn on the "LED flashlight" flash mode by using some of the apps out there to do this.
- Use holiday lights for beautiful bokeh - All one has to do in this case from a technical point of view is to find a very bright point object. To get these "out of focus" lights you need to have a lens with an aperture smaller than 2.8 (a 50mm 1.8 or better 1.4 lens is great). To get blurry lights you must use manual focus, otherwise, the in-camera autofocus will try to make holiday lights sharp. If you have a focused foreground, you don't have to focus manually. Enough:
- Fully (or almost completely) open the diaphragm.
- Significantly zoom out the foreground, which is in focus, and the background represented by the Christmas tree lights. If the object and the lights are nearby, then this effect cannot be achieved.
- Focus on the subject in the foreground.
Magical results. It's worth trying to make Christmas photos with our advice!
Christmas without holiday lights is not Christmas! Therefore, any Christmas report includes a photograph that depicts the lights as the main characters or as part of the moment. It is an element that gives scope to the imagination. We always want to capture the happiest moments of our life in a photo. By the way, you can post your photos on our website.
What is the best way to photograph a Christmas tree?
A Christmas tree decorated with garlands is best photographed in dim light or in complete darkness. The included overhead light in the room will eclipse all the beauty of the shimmering Christmas tree.
How to set up the camera?
The settings depend on the type of your camera and the lighting. If you have a regular digital camera, then switch it to “Night shot” mode. The same can be done with a DSLR. But happy owners of a DSLR camera are still recommended to switch to manual settings. This way, you can adjust your camera exactly to the lighting in the room. But don't forget to turn off your flash!
How to adjust the aperture for shooting?
Experiment with aperture. By setting the aperture to the highest value possible, you can get beautiful sparkling balls from the glowing garlands, reminiscent of the bokeh style.
How to set the shutter speed for shooting New Year's lights?
And when shooting in the dark, shutter speed plays a big role. Its value should be large, because, with a small value, we get instead of an ideal photograph - “Malevich's Black Square”. So, we put the camera on a tripod, and the shutter speed at the highest value, press the shutter button, and wait for the original image.