We all love looking at Christmas lights, but how do you get a photo that reflects their true brilliance? South Coast Register chief of staff and gun photographer Adam Wright gives you some simple tips!
You'll be using your camera at night without the flash. This means any movement of the camera will produce a blurry image. To make your camera more sensitive to light and less likely to give you a blurred image turn the ISO up. I would recommend an ISO of at least 1600 on most cameras. Get your camera settings sorted before you go, it's much harder in the dark. Also take a torch, it comes in handy.
If you have a tripod use it, if not you might be able to park in front of the house and rest the camera on your car. If not, look for a fence or letterbox. Anything to hold the camera still. Worst-case-scenario hold it very still, rest your elbows on your rib cage and hold your breath when you gently press the shutter button. If you're familiar with the self timer - using it is another good way to remove potential camera shake from pressing the shutter button.
THINK OUTSIDE THE SQUARE
It's not always best to shoot the house from front on. Take a walk and look at it from different angles. If there is a feature light out in the front closer to the road, try positioning yourself so that feature is in the foreground to one side of the frame.
After you've take the shot check it on the screen. Zoom in to see if it looks sharp or not.
A DASH OF LIGHT
If you want to put people in the shot there is a setting on your flash that is called "slow" and one called "rear". Using these settings your flash will fire but it will be after the camera has exposed for the lights. This should light up the people in the foreground nicely leaving the background perfectly exposed. You will need to ask your subject to hold very still. (see adlight1).
PAINTING WITH LIGHT
Remember that torch I told you to take? Try the above shot but without any flash - instead paint your subject with torch light while taking the photo. You can use this to light up anything in the shot that doesn't have lights on it.
I'M ON THE PHONE
If you are using your telephone (don't really call it that anymore do we?) instead of a camera to take Chrissy light pics the best time is magic hour. It's that 10 minutes before the sky turns totally dark. That extra bit of ambient light can help avoid blurry shots. As with the camera you'll need to turn off your flash and hold the phone rock-steady, tuck those elbows in if it's not on a tripod. A handy option is the Camera+ App which lets you focus on any point and also lets you tell the phone which part of the scene you want to expose properly. It's free, easy to use and has stacks of frames, effects and other features.