Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lights On

There is something about photographing holiday decorations that appeals to me. First of all, I think it's because they don't move. People move. Pets move. Secondly, I have total control over what's in the photograph. I don't have to make it smile or "not wear that". Lastly, no one is offended because I "took their bad side".

What makes a great Christmas photo is the subject. And what makes a great album of Christmas photos is the variety of subjects. Christmas lights are always a photographer's first choice. There is one thing you will need in order to photograph lights well - a solid surface. Use a tripod; find a fence post or a table top. Shaky lights look like shaky lights. Experiment with shutter speeds and apertures. Smaller apertures will give you more star effects. Shorter shutter speeds will give you more light detail and less "little round white circles".

Christmas Light

Christmas Light

However, don't limit yourself to just lights. There are a myriad of good subjects. I like to make macros and have photographed everything from jingle bells to candy canes to gold sparkles. Adjust your camera angle. Don't shoot everything from above, but lower or turn yourself.

Candy Canes

Candy Cane

Stage a photograph. Make a collection of similar objects and move them around. Put something in the foreground. Drape a cloth in the background. Staging photographs can be great fun! But be sure to pay attention to your exposure. Lighting is often key to a good staged photograph and greater detail (without distracting elements) is usually needed to make it work.

A Christmas Glass

A Christmas Glass

Try something abstract. Everything doesn't have to be concrete. Lower your depth of field and let things go out of focus. I am always surprised by what photos work. Sometimes it is just the sparkle that I wanted to capture, not the object itself.

Christmas Colors in Abstract

Christmas Colors in Abstract

When you've got it all done, try making a slide show. There are dozens of places and types of software you can use to put one together. Take all your new Christmas shots, insert some family photos, add a Christmasy tune, and play it at the family gathering. I find people love to remember Christmases past.


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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA


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