Tips for Photographing Christmas Lights December 09 2009

1260378788194(Photo by Michael DeHaan)The photoblog Strobist and the camera expert at LensRentals offer useful suggestions for photographing Christmas lights. With good timing and a few simple tricks you should get pleasing results out of your camera.

Both sites agree that when photographing Christmas lights it's important to shoot your photos at dusk. Don't wait until it's completely dark. That way you will still be able to see other objects, such as the house and trees. You will also be able to include a beautiful sky in the photographs. Says Strobist:

The best time to shoot is before it gets totally dark. More specifically, get there before what looks like mix light to your eyes, too. Arriving around sunset will give you time to plan your shot before the good light happens. You may have to ask your subject to turn the lights on early - most people don't flip them on until the good light is already gone.

Both sites recommend using a tripod. It is getting dark after all and, if you follow LensRentals' advice, you will be using a longer exposure associated with a stopped down aperture:

If you shoot wide open, say f2.8 or more, the lights show up as glowing little blobs. But if you stop down – way down, where diffraction softening would interfere with a sharp daytime shot – you get awesome star points from your lights.

Some other advice:

  • Compose your photo to include the sky and a compelling foreground object.
  • Setting your white balance to "tungsten" works best with Christmas lights.
  • Use a long exposure and drag the shutter to use a fill flash to capture people in your images.

Continue reading to get the full story on photographing Christmas lights from these two sites: