Christmas Time! How to Photograph Lights

This is  a really great time of the year to get  unique and magical pictures of your kids.  One of the things that adds to the magic, is all the sparkly lights everywhere.   From the lights on the trees, to the neighbor’s vibrantly decorated yard, there are excellent festive backdrops for holiday pictures everywhere.  So why is it that when we try to photograph lights at night they disappear into the darkness?

What Usually Happens (what not to do!):

  1. We see a beautifully lit up scene and position our subject in front of this perfect Christmassy backdrop.
  2. We use our camera’s auto setting, the Auto Flash fires and the lights disappears into the background.

Here’s a shot I took at the weekend which demonstrates what happens when we use flash:

Auto Flash

It’s a perfectly exposed shot but we don’t really get a feeling of the atmosphere of the picture.  The background is beautifully lit by fairy lights but when the flash fires it throws the background into darkness.

How to Photograph Lights (do this instead)

So how to we accurately portray the scene as we see it?

  1. Simply set your camera to Night Scene Mode (the icon looks like a little man beside a moon and stars)
  2. Hold steady and shoot!

And here is the result:

Night Scene Flash

What happens in Night Scene mode is the shutter stays open for longer than normal so the ambient lighting in the background is exposed.  Then, the flash fires in order to expose your subject in the foreground.

The result is a well exposed subject and a perfectly exposed background .  So we get the overall festive feeling of the picture.

Some things to remember when using this mode:

  1. Only use when the background is lit up and the lights are to be part of the picture.
  2. Hold your camera extra steady – that slow shutter speed will result in camera shake if you don’t
  3. Only use for very still subjects.  My model was being unusually poised for this picture!
  4. If you have no subject (person) in shot you could try turning flash off altogether and raising your ISO

So go and find some cool illuminated backgrounds and take some Holiday pictures using Night Scene Mode.

Happy snapping!

P.S. This is a great method to use to photograph your Christmas tree and your living room when taking your picture for Capture the Magic!  Be sure to read my post on this great way to catch Santa in the Act!

Picture Gift Ideas for Mom

Gift Ideas for Mom

Gift Ideas for Mom

So I’ve eventually started my Christmas shopping this year and I’ve been scouring the internet for pressies. One of my sticking points every year is gift ideas for Mom. Being a photographer one of my “go-to” gifts for her is always of course Pictures!  She is usually inundated with photos of recent times and loves to look at them on her laptop, but we have heaps of old pictures that just sit upstairs in boxes and albums gathering dust.  It’s a shame that these pictures are now mostly forgotten. So when I found this idea by ScanDigital I was impressed.

How about getting them all together on a brand new digital photoframe?  All you have to do is ship off your old pics, negatives, slides, whatever you have to ScanDigital and they upload everything to a digital frame and send you everything back plus the preloaded frame and a DVD of all the images.

Perfect gift idea for Mom who has it all and it saves you from having to show her how to put stuff on the frame herself.  I also love the idea of putting old pics on display.  In this digital age they are  always forgotten about.

So get together some of your old pics and visit the ScanDigital website for more information.

But don’t delay! Deadline is December 14th!

Happy Snapping

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The Best Santa Picture without even leaving home

Gotcha! Santa in your living room!

Gotcha! Santa in your living room!

Most of you know that I’m the proud mom of a baby girl and this year I’m anticipating that Christmas will be even more fun than usual, having her around. I know I really should go and stand in line at the mall so she can get her first Santa picture but that doesn’t sound so appealing. So, since Santa will be paying us a visit this year I thought I would capture the event on camera on Christmas Eve.

How so I hear you say? You’ll never catch Santa in the act!

Well, thanks to a new website called Capture the Magic you can!  These guys help you get a picture of Santa in your very own living room.  You could even get a picture of him talking to the dog.

Set up your camera on Christmas Eve before the little ones head to bed and in the morning you have the proof of the pudding to show that the big man himself made an appearance.

Thrill your kids this Christmas! Catch Santa in YOUR house!