For many photographers, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday season is the opportunity to photograph the colorful Christmas lights that appear in our neighborhoods and in commercial displays. As is the case with other photography subjects, planning is key to getting the kinds of shots that you’ll want to show friends and family or post on social media sites. One of the important decisions that you’ll want to make before venturing out is the time of day to shoot. Depending on what and where you plan to photograph, ambient light is an important consideration. The two main choices are waiting until after dark or shooting during the blue hour. If the lights themselves are the most important thing, shooting after dark will work fine. If, however, you’re planning on shooting the lights on buildings, such as churches or other structures, the blue hour provides ambient light that will allow you to capture details on buildings, structures, and some color in the sky as well, so your photos will have detail and texture.
In either case, you’ll want to have the camera in manual mode and use a tripod or, at minimum, have a way of stabilizing the camera to avoid blur, because longer exposures will be necessary to capture the scene. A tripod will also allow flexibility in the choice of apertures, whereas shooting handheld will restrict aperture values to the widest available. Exposures will vary from around one-quarter of a second to several seconds, and the use of a cable release or the camera’s timer should be used to prevent camera shake. Some experimenting with ISO values will be necessary, so it’s best to begin with the lowest ISO, such as 100, and work up from there if necessary. The white balance setting is important in order to capture accurate colors. A white balance preset, depending on the light source, might be incandescent or tungsten. However, since Christmas lights are of various colors and ambient light can change rapidly, the safest setting would be to use Auto white balance and make sure that you’re shooting in RAW so that required modifications can be made in post-processing.
Registration for the Digital Photography Fundamentals course is underway! Only a few seats left. This popular class, open to club members and non-members alike, is offered only once each season. Don’t be left out! Explore digital cameras, post-processing, perspective, light, and exposure. Class notes are included. Classes begin in January. For additional information or to register, visit our club’s website or contact Dan Dragoon at [email protected]
The Sun Lakes Camera Club (SLCC) meets the first and third Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Mirror Room of the Sun Lakes Country Club from October through April. For more information about the SLCC and its activities, call SLCC President Lynn Thompson at 480-734-0040 or Past President Jan Ballard at 602-621-3344, and visit our website at www.sunlakescameraclub.com.