How to Photograph Christmas Lights

Start our Christmas special. As I had promised this week there will be daily post (or almost… in project on Friday if you give us time) starting from that left by the wayside in our post of {times} this month: Christmas lights. Are you ready?

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without your lights! And that’s why any Christmas photojournalism we do, secure safe, includes any image where the lights are present, as exclusive characters, or as a part more than the ‘moment’. They are an element that gives much play, and by its special feature (are light) have their “him” for photographing them in all its glory. That is why we preferred to speak of this in more detail in a post enterito on how to portray them according to Writingles.Com.

Obviously there is not a single shape (technically speaking) do it… but I will give you a few recommendations that tend to operate and, starting from there, each they continue experiencing what how you learn.
abroad: your city lights
The streets of the cities most dress lights on these dates. Photographing them is part of the Christmas album without doubt. Many times you may have felt you “cheated” trying to capture them in an image. Perhaps with these tips it easier you next time:

1.- It is evident, but the photos must be done By the night: come on, with the lights on. But, the “crux” of the matter is that the night is still “young”. Don’t wait to light will be everything. As soon as they turn on them and runs out of the Sun begins to shoot. It is that moment in which the lights are, but the sky is still in that dark blue color. Who left muuucho more beautiful as well with all black background!

2.- Supports the camera: it is ideal to use tripod. Here there is no excuse. But if the photo appears before your eyes and were not prepared for it (would one does not usually carry a tripod in the bag… or Yes?) looking for any surface on which support camera, to avoid the pictures blurry.

3.- If you still want more “clarity” remember: activates the mirror lock (see the manual of your camera) and uses the remote trigger (or at least the timer). The thing is that when tightening the bolt, by very delicate that you do, you don’t move the camera (if you want reviewed other tips on how to get sharper pictures).

4.- Turn off the flash. This is a “half” is clear that if you are a master of the strobist and want to use the flash to get a particular lighting (background, the foreground…) because Hey, stop by here and tell us how it is done! But for most mortals, that flash us resists (its proper use I mean) is better to follow the rule of not using it. In this case is especially important not flashing lights with built-in flash or direct a flash light since we will be confronted with two problems: shooting lights “of the city” are generally too far to illuminate them with a flash, but most importantly: the sense in “illuminating lights”? It’s like photographing them day! They would no longer be lit!

5.- Watch the white balance: obviously also can work in WB (white balance) auto if then you’re going to retouch your photos, although… you can order something as concrete is much more practical (and even better) so that the exposure is calculated change at the time of the taking. Select tungsten to avoid an unwanted yellowish tint.

6.- Nor should comment, but if you can shoot in RAW. ‘Difficult’ photos are so shooting with this format then you can correct small errors more easily (and already get bracketing or bracketing to get at least three shots with different exposures and thus ensure that any that is your are looking for!).

7.- Parameters: the ideal here is to work in manual mode, but it could also be made with priority to the opening.

First choose the opening: is evident here depending upon the type of picture that you want to make: If like that you everything is focused (lights and the background) or only a part and “fuzzy” rest in varying degrees (bottom lights make a nice bokeh). Remember: how m s open more light enters, so you can take pictures with higher speeds, but still you do not recover support the camera because they will not be very high.

Then you can do two things: let the camera choose it single speed (aperture priority) and look at the result (visor + histogram remember!) or try different speeds in manual mode until you get the desired result.

The sky must be dark blue and the lights bright but not burned. It is likely that if you let the camera choose one, as there is very little light, you decide on exhibit, so you’ll have to compensate exposure underexposing at least one point. This can be avoided by measuring a little lights in spot metering mode.

Yes, they are many details together, and there are so many possible Wrapup! We leave this Board as guidance:

8.- and finally: get many many photos. Try to achieve what you are looking for. It is the only way to get it (the following times will be easier, because you already have references, but at the beginning you must take time).

Note: if you are a user of a compact no manual options do not despair. You can also get good photos. To do this: place the camera in mode “night photo” or similar. Mount it on a tripod. Turn off the flash. You are looking for the site that you want to photograph and frame while still is day. Waiting for the Sun will go. He begins to shoot with the timer. Take about a picture every minute or so. Sometime the ambient light will blow properly with the lights that already has been turned on and there you have your photo.

By the way, one last tip that our friend Sea Merelogave us the other day: a trick to avoid unwanted reflections to go when photographed lights (that happens sometimes it seems that the lights are “doubles”)… and is simple: remove the filter on the lens. Yes, Yes, that I said unto you that you colocarais there front and not sacarais it never more (the UV protecting the lens). Well, this is the exception. Unscrew it to make photos of lights (but returns to screw it as soon as you are done!).

inside: now yes, the Christmas tree
The protagonist of photos with Christmas lights is usually the tree because it is almost always lit. But it serves the same explanation for any group of lights you have at home.

Note: Obviously the tree is great with the lights out, don’t forget to photograph it as well (so see tooodos details of these ornaments so cute that you have chosen this year), but of course, that is not the topic of this post 🙂

Different situations can occur:

  1. that the protagonist of the picture is the tree/lights in question:

In this case more or less the recommendations are the same as in photos from outside to get a portrait of the tree in all its splendor (i.e., with the lights on). If you are near a window, opens the curtains and wait for that moment of the “blue hour” we said before. If not, put some ambient light to also see something of the stay and does not appear completely black (but soft, that it does not cheapen the lights of the tree itself!). Don’t forget photograph motifs closely, capturing the detail to combine both types of photos in your album / project.

  1. that the tree / lights are part of the decor:

Well, the tree will be there, but it is not the protagonist. That picture of, what interests us is I, the pekes playing sitting at his feet, or gathered family to his around, or packets that just left there Santa-Claus. And we want to do it with the lights on, which are those that will create room.

This type of shots is a little more complicated (especially if you want to combine with the tree people).

Two situations can arise:
a.-we use the lights as the sole source of light: They create a divine atmosphere, but most of the tree lights are Dim, and therefore we will have really low light. Will always be simpler with more powerful and white lights (those of colors still gives less light than white), but in any case we have a photograph with very low light and therefore return to the problem of “moved photos” but more difficult still. In the previous section we saw that with the help of the tripod and a few more tricks we can prevent photo moved even when we use very slow speed. This is equally applicable here if what are illuminating and photographing with the lighting of the tree is somewhat static (e.g. packages at their feet we said) but when people are… the slow speed it has its limits, because people move! Although we try to be motionless, so here:

  • use your largest opening
  • much much raises the ISO, trying to prevent speeds below 1/15 sec If there are people in your picture, since otherwise it will be moved even with the tripod.
  • place your subject as close as possible to the lights so they are well-lit.

-we use any other source of light: in this case, the ambient light gives it the tree lights, but we use another light source to illuminate the subject. This is especially useful with people. If you master the lighting Flash off the camera… now you know that I’m talking about, but for anyone that still gets us a little big, we can test with simpler alternatives… Looking for a soft, diffuse light and place it somewhere where it is not visible, but oriented towards the face of your protagonists; If it is sufficiently powerful you can place it outside the frame, but to achieve that ambient light, it is not very intense light and which is close to the main character of the photo. And a simple to test option is the light mobile… without compromising the phone, Yes?

(those who have iPhone… can activate the flash mode led flashlight with some of the apps that are for that). The rest of parameters are same as in the previous cases, but have more leeway with the speed to be more light in this illuminated point.

  1. we use tree / lights to create a nice bokeh:

How we love these photos! The only thing missing here (technically speaking clear) is to have a very bright lens. To get those “blurry” lights will need to have a target that allows large less than 2.8 openings generally (the geat 50mm 1.8 or better yet the 1.4 is a very affordable option).
To get the lights out “fuzzy” you have to use manual focus, otherwise the camera autofocus will attempt to be crisp.

If there is a focused closeup it is not necessary that approaches in manual. Just:

  • Open butt (or almost) the diaphragm.
  • separate the foreground that will focus the “background” which are the lights reasonably (if they are very close to both things will not get this effect).
  • focus on the foreground.

The results are magical. It is worth trying.

And if you like these custom bokehs there are lots of tutorials on the web that explain how it’s done… and are so cute!

Well, nothing, now everyone to practice (me included I have the duties without making… and the tree still unassembled!). Do not despair, they are technically complicated pictures, but we hope that with these tips and ideas it easier you!