How to Photograph Holiday Lights
Reprinted with permission from the
York Institute of Photography website at http://www.nyip.com
'Tis the season to be jolly! The season of lights - from Christmas trees to
Hannukah candles to decorative house lighting. Lights...lights...lights to cheer up the long
dark nights of winter. According to the New York Institute of Photography (NYI), the world's
largest photography school, your pictures can capture the magic of this lighting if you apply
just one simple professional "trick."
For example, how can your pictures capture the colorful glow of the lights
on a Christmas tree? The "trick," according to NYI, is to turn off your
camera's strobe! That's the key: Turn off your strobe. Because otherwise
the bright strobe light will overwhelm the subtle tree lights in your
picture. Similarly, NYI recommends that you turn off your strobe whenever you
want to capture any subtle light source - from Christmas trees to Menorah
candles to decorative house lighting to those wonderful tree outlines
produced by tiny white bulbs.
Of course, certain things follow from this: When you turn off your strobe,
you won't have enough light for split-second exposure. Your automatic
camera will compensate by opening the shutter for a longer time - maybe a
second or longer. Let your camera's built-in meter decide automatically.
But a very long exposure will become blurry if either the camera moves or
the tree-lights move, or both. To minimize this risk, NYI recommends two
further steps: First, use fast film - for example, ISO 800. This will cut
down the duration of the exposure. Second, steady your camera. Handholding
just won't do. Use a tripod if possible. If not, place the camera on a
solid surface, such as a tabletop, or brace it against a wall.
For complete details and an array of great holiday photos, see the article on Holiday Lights in
this month's Website of the New York Institute of Photography at http://www.nyip.com.