the season for warm and lovely holiday lighting around our homes, stores and
public buildings. It is also a good time to discuss some of the
challenges in photographing these emblems of this special time of year.
this week I will be giving a talk to the South Shore Camera Club in Quincy
Massachusetts and they requested a presentation on capturing the holiday
illuminations. I didn’t think I had enough material for an hour long discussion
on holiday lights, so I have been madly searching for more images and
information. These are always great learning situations, so I have been out
trying to shoot images that better illustrate some of the essential
points. Fortunately, I am just back from spending several days
celebrating thanksgiving with my son in New York City and I had wonderful
opportunities to shoot some of the elaborate decorations in Manhattan.
since my talk is on Tuesday and I have my last “Introduction to Digital Photography”
class on Thursday, this will be a brief list tips for your holiday
photography. For more details, check out my articles from a few years
ago. With the exception of the increasingly prevalent use of LED
lighting, little has changed (see below)
to reveal the detail of the context of the image.It
is important to show that your lights are hanging on something, and not merely appearing
to float in the air. Whether the lights
are strung on a house, a church, or trees in a park, it is the context that
tells the story of each image. Just be
careful to avoid washing out the lights.
It is always an important to maintain balance in the exposures.
the Flash Away
are very few situations in which is flash can be helpful in capturing holiday
lights. In general, a flash will merely wash out the lights nearby while
inducing shorter shutter speeds that will underexpose the more distant
More even capture of the lights
may be obtain by using the slow sync flash option which is available on many
cameras. This feature combines the flash
with a slower shutter speed to record more of the background detail.
|Slow Sync Flash|
Almost always you will get better images by turning off the flash, attaching your
camera to a tripod, and using a long exposure.
years, most holiday lights used tungsten bulbs which create a yellow tint when
shot with a daylight setting. Switching to
the tungsten setting corrects the tint, making white bulbs appear white, but,
in mixed lighting situations, surrounding areas may take on a blue tint. The color balance can be a matter of taste,
although in Photoshops two images can be blended with a mask to combine the white
lights with the un-tinted background.
|Daylight Color Balance|
The choice of color temperature is especially important when shooting in the
restrictive color environment of JPGs.
When shooting RAW the color setting is not important, since it can be
easily changed in post-processing, but JPGs are much less capable of color
|Tungsten Color Balance|
LED lighting imposes another level of complexity since they can produce a wide
range of colors. Experimentation with
various color settings can help, but I usually shoot in RAW with the AWB (Automatic
White Balance) and then do my experimentation during post-processing.
|Blended Light Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA|
in for Detail
tend to love wide views of Christmas illuminations, but it is important to
remember to move in to capture some of the interesting detail. Compositions created by just a few bulbs or
details of greenery can provide refreshing variety. After shooting my grandly lighted landscapes,
I try to force myself to keep stepping deeper and deeper into the scene.
Don’t forget to check my other tips about capturing the “Holy Grail” of holiday
shooting in the blue hour, capturing the lights in fresh snow, catching the twinkle
in the lights and finding strong context in the images.
Looking forward to seeing your presentation tonight Jeff!!!ReplyDelete
Thank you for the wonderful presentation last night. I spoke with many members who really enjoyed it. It was a pleasure to finally meet you!ReplyDelete
Thanks Carol. I had a great time. Hopefully I will have time to catch up on your blog soon.Delete
Wonderful blog, these pictures are beautifulReplyDelete
Great Post about Holiday Lighting. It is so nice to read such a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing! Have a pleasant day ahead.ReplyDelete
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