These photos may be classified as better than average snapshots, yet snapshots none the less. The photographer had no say in lighting or arrangement of the scenes and could not control traffic flow when photos were taken form a slowly moving automobile! Photos in this post are the result of fun evening drives around a small town, camera in hand with a wish to get a few better snapshots of how the enthusiastic and talented folks decorate and we have the chance to enjoy it . You might find a short drive or walkabout just before or after Christmas a fun family event. Take the camera! If you have a camera capable of user controlled exposure, the suggestions in this post can help produce better photos.
Time for a small commercial break..after all, we do want to
generate photography business!
Small town, market street of many antiques stores, shot just prior to Christmas 2012. This is where store front photos in the post were taken.
This post is for fun and to possibly help others in taking nice snapshots of holiday lights.. first up are basics to consider when on your quest for holiday light photos:
1. Turn off the camera flash. Just like the useless deluge of audience camera flashes at a sports arena, the flash will not be strong enough to light the subject. In fact, any light added by a flash will totally ruin the scene...it is like turning off the Christmas tree lights. NO flash is the first rule. It is easy to overlook this basic rule. You want colors and lights to show and must turn off the flash.
2. If your camera allows it, set the ISO manually and do not use automatic ISO. The interaction of a changing ISO "film speed", shutter speed and aperture may create too much variance in your photos and also cover your photos with the speckles of digital noise, a result of using too high an ISO. You have time to go out one evening soon and take photos outside a shopping center or other lit area. Try starting with 500 or 600 ISO and aperture adjusted as you shoot until you find the best combination. You can always change the settings if needed when actually doing Christmas lights. If not using a tripod, try to keep shutter speed set at 1/50 sec and not slower. Having vibration reduction may allow you to shoot slower and get away with it. Try this before you actually go out to shoot the Christmas lights.
3.Higher ISO makes for more sensitivity to the light available, allowing a faster shutter speed. However, in some cameras serious digital noise in the photos is the result. Try it at night before the event.
4. Take in the whole scene and also closer shots. When done, you can select which shows the best view and crop wider shots for a different point of view as in the photo below.
The store front from above, emphasis on windows: I believe this is a better photograph than the previous one. What would your choose? The Sigma 30mm is a gem for this type of photo.
Here is an example of a an old photo from the "almost deleted" files, salvaged to be acceptable by cropping off the blurry deer lights. The slow shutter speed led to blur which was much more apparent in the lights than on the Santa figures. The full image looked ok in the camera viewer but seen larger on the computer monitor it did not cut it.
Blurry reindeer lights made for a poor snapshot and the composition is off balance overall. Remove the deer and the photo is still a snapshot but much better than the one below. A tripod would have improved the photo and help eliminate the blur from camera shake. All houses were photographed from a passenger side of the vehicle.
A walk down the street revealed Christmas in almost every window, done nicely in what was expected for antiques stores...nostalgia.