The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022

Taking photos of Christmas lighting

Before you do anything, you’ll need to decide what is the purpose for the photo, because that will dictate whether the lights, the location of the lights, or if the two are equally important.  Once that is determined, you can set up your tripod and camera for the picture.

If lights are the subject of your shot, arrive to take your pictures when there is no light in the sky.  I use the plural for pictures because you’ll want to use a number of different settings so you can select the one that pleases you the most.  Also moving to different locations may produce a more pleasing result. Shooting lights will permit tighter framing for the shot if that is what you want.

An example of how a cross screen filter can change the appearance of lights by Rex Dolby.

If the location is possibly a personal, historic, or interesting one, and you consider it to be more important than the lights, arrive just after sundown or pick a very cloudy afternoon to avoid light and shadow problems.  You’ll get more uniform illumination. Again, use different camera settings and locations to achieve your best exposure and angle results.

For the third example, let’s assume it is the Christmas lights on your house that you want to shoot. Set up for the shot shortly after sundown. If it is bitterly cold, possibly you can position your car at the angle you want to shoot, roll the window down part way, and use its upper edge with something soft draped over it to steady the camera lens. Shut the car’s motor off just before you shoot to reduce the chance of vibration. 

Use a variety of settings and locations to achieve the your favorite view.  In this situation however, you can take some tight shots, but also allow for some wider views with extra space across the top and bottom.  That way, if you should decide later, a Christmas message could be placed in the scene for a personalized greeting card.

To make your picture more unique, you can use a cross screen (or star) filter to provide 2, 4, 6, or 8 streaks of light from each light at an angle of your choice.  This is achieved by turning the outer ring. These filters have a grid embedded in them that produces the flair and the size of your lens opening can influence this effect also.

Next week we’ll tell you how to turn your photo into a photo greeting card.

POSTED: 12/20/17 at 12:47 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News