Finding the Holiday “Sweet Spot”
This is the time of year when every good photographer turns their camera toward the lights that warm our holiday season. This week I completed an article for the New England Photography Guild on shooting Christmas lights. The blog includes a number of tips that I think are especially important when trying to capture the magic of Christmas illuminations. Check it out. Christmas Lights Photography (to be published 12/23/13)
As always my companion “Getting it Right in the Digital Camera” blog will include some the images that didn’t fit in the NEPG article.
I have never been a great fan of Christmas light photography;
|Lovely Understated Lighting|
I have taken hundreds of pictures of Central Square, but the most popular have been those taken during winter with the Christmas decorations and lights. The square has 4 key elements that can be mixed and match in a wide variety of compositions. These include the gazebo, the white church and, during the holidays, the Christmas tree. Oh yes, and the fourth element is the traffic, both human and vehicular, that always has to be accounted for. This year our tree is a bit small, but nicely decorated. I came back to the square 5 times looking for the best combination of light and atmosphere. I think I finally hit on the “sweet spot” earlier this week.
|Bare Ground & Dark Skies|
When I started visiting the Square the lights were beautiful, but the ground was bare. I experimented with compositions including all of the elements, the church, the Gazebo and the tree, but later tried other combinations. The first problem was that the brown grass was unattractively barren and did nothing to reflect the lights. I tried to arrange compositions to include as little of the ground as possible, but I needed snow, and that came last weekend.
As soon as the snow had stopped, I was out again, shooting some of my favorite angles around the square. The key to snow photography is to catch it when it is fresh, the "winter wonderland" time when the trees and buildings are still frosted. This is especially true for Christmas lighting. As I discussed in this week's NEPG Blog, the snow on the trees reflects the color of the light best when the snow is close to the bulbs and before the heat of the lamps melts it away.
|The Blue Hour, but No Snow|
So what is the sweet spot for Christmas lights photography? For me it includes all the important elements; an iconic New England scene, beautiful and not garish lights that complement the locale, cool twilight in the sky and fluffy fresh snow. After last weeks snow, I hit the jack-pot on central square with all of these elements, but there was on thing
It was the classic white church at the top of the square. The United Church of Christ was an essential part of many of my compositions, but the flood light which illuminate the facade didn't come on until the darkness had nearly fully descended. I was
missing the "Blue "Hour"! There
|The Sweet Spot|
Check out my more detailed list of tips on the New England Photography Blog, and get out to enjoy the show before it flies off to the North Pole for another year.