Sunday, November 26, 2017

How to Photograph Outdoor Christmas Lights

If you have artistically, and painstakingly put up  
outdoor Christmas lights at your house,
you probably want to photograph them.

Here are some tips for showing off your Christmas artwork
in a sparkly photograph!

The biggest trick is to photograph outdoor Christmas lights.
 right after the sun has set so you capture them with enough
 light to show the structure, and the sky is a rich shade of blue.

I took a photo of this Christmas gazebo at 5:15 pm right after the
sun dipped below the horizon.

You can still see the gazebo and surroundings,
but the lights also show up against the pretty blue sky.

Just a few minutes later, it was already darker,
so you need to shoot FAST!

Notice how I have already lost some detail on and around 
the gazebo after just a few minutes.

I photographed this church right after sunset.

I hurried to get several angles before it got too dark to see the church.

Here it is after it got dark.
The scene is still pretty because I had several streetlights
to illuminate the church.

But, if you don't have another light source,
your photo against a black sky will be disappointing like this next one.

Nothing to light the surroundings and the lights look flat.

I snapped this next photo at our town's tree lighting ceremony
soon after the sun set.  

                                                              LOVE that rich blue sky!

They shot off fireworks later in the evening, so I photographed
them separately and added them to these photos.

I made the fireworks into an overlay 
which I sell here in my Etsy Shop if you want to add them to your photos!

About an hour after sunset, I took this photo 
with the sky much darker.

I prefer a lighter, royal blue sky, but if you have
other light to illuminate the scene, it can look beautiful.

Here's another example where a dark sky can look great!

I only wanted the lights to show up because they created the scene.

If it has gotten too dark,
look for what can illuminate your photo subject.

In this case, it was lots of streetlights.

Now for one of my favorite tricks for shooting Christmas...
or any lights at night:

Turn all the lights into stars!

To do this:

Shoot on tripod
Aperture Priority
Use the smallest aperture on your lens.  I use f.22
Get a focus, then switch to manual on your lens
ISO 100.
This will create a very long shutter which is fine since you're on tripod.
(This will not work if you have things moving in your photo like people.)

Notice how each light in your photo is turned into a star!
In this photo, you can really see the stars in the tree over the house.

If you zoom in closer, you can see that
all the tiny lights have turned into stars!

I love to capture the stars with no need for a special filter!

Let this be the year you capture your outdoor Christmas lights
in all their glory!

1 comment:

  1. oooh that red barn all decked out for Christmas looks so inviting. Give me a cozy little campfire and a warm cup of cocoa and I could sit there for hours.