Christmas is almost here and everywhere around neighborhoods in
Raleigh, Christmas lights are being strung on houses and on trees in
living rooms. If you plan on taking pictures during the holiday
season, this is a great opportunity to capture the lights at night and
take some festive pictures.
If you are taking pictures outside at night, you will want to make
sure the lights are bright and clear. Whether you are walking around
downtown taking pictures of the lights strung outside shops and around
parks or you are driving around in neighborhoods admiring the displays
on the houses, the best time to do this is in the early evening. Try
to time it correctly so that the sun has already set, but it is not
completely dark yet. If it is late at night and completely dark, you
will be able to capture the lights, but the rest of your scene won’t
have any detail. If it it too early and still bright outside, your
Christmas lights will be overpowered and look dull in the sunlight.
Another thing to consider is shutter speed. Just like any time you
are taking photos in low light situations, you want to make sure your
shutter speed is set to a slower speed in order to completely capture
your image and expose correctly. However, if you are shooting with a
slow shutter speed, you will often get lots of camera shake when
holding your camera by hand. Make sure you have a tripod with you
when shooting with slower shutter speeds to reduce motion blur. Using
the self timer or a remote to release the shutter will also help to
keep your images from looking blurry.
If you have a wide angle lens, this can be a great way to capture a
fully decorated house or even a wide shot of a neighborhood lit up
with Christmas decorations. Play around with different types of
lenses to get different creative shots. Zoom in on portions of outdoor
decorations or take a step back for a fuller picture.
When I travel home to Virginia for Christmas, I look forward to taking
pictures inside with my family and all the decorations. Taking
pictures indoors during the holidays gives you a fantastic opportunity
to taking pictures with bokeh. Whether you are at a Christmas party
or just taking family pictures around the Christmas tree, setting up
your camera to capture bokeh is fairly simple.
The trick to capturing bokeh is in your aperture. A good way to set
up your camera is to use aperture priority and set the aperture as
wide as it will go. This lets in a lot of light and give you a very
shallow depth of field. If you are taking portraits for instance, you
will want your subject in that shallow depth of field and the
Christmas lights placed behind your subject. Because the lights are
out of your depth of field, they will not be sharp and in focus and
will turn into blurry bokeh!
If you can’t adjust your aperture low enough to get a bokeh effect,
another way to work around this is to create physical space between
your subject and the Christmas lights. Doing this will manipulate
your depth of field and still give you the bokeh effect you want.
More distance created will increase the blurriness of the Christmas
lights, so play around with how far your subject is from the lights to
get the right amount of bokeh.
With a few camera settings and adjustments to the way you normally
shoot, capturing Christmas lights is a breeze! I hope these few tips
help you approach shooting holiday pictures this Christmas season.