Holiday Photography

Lighting for holiday photos

Written by James Jordan

Tips to improve lighting when taking holiday photos. Some may have never even crossed your mind before reading this article.

Follow this advice for improved room lighting that will help improve the quality and color balance of your holiday photos.

Inside lighting

If you’re going with the lamps in the room, boost your ISO to a level that can handle the exposure but doesn’t show marked noise or graininess. Usually something in the ISO 400 to 800 range will work out well under standard room lighting.

Here’s a handy tip:

Invest in higher wattage bulbs for the day to ensure enough light and/or bring an extra lamp or two into the room. Be sure all the bulbs are of the same type – either soft white or daylight. Mixed lighting can mess with color rendition in different parts of a room.

Soft white bulbs give off light with an orange cast. You can correct this by setting your camera’s white balance to Incandescent.

Daylight bulbs are just that – they approximate the color temperature of sunlight. Set your white balance to Daylight.

To add a little warmth to your pictures, try out the Flash or Shade white balance setting.

White balance

Don’t rely on your camera to make your white balance calls for you. No doubt you’ll have other lights in the room as décor. If your white balance is set to Auto, these lights can throw off the color rendition of your pictures.

Set your white balance for the main lighting source and keep it there for consistency’s sake.

Photographing outside

Don’t forget to readjust your camera settings for bright daylight.

If you’re in a snowy location, set your Exposure Compensation (EV) for +1 or +2 to compensate for your camera reading the bright light from the snowy backdrop. Drop your ISO and stop down your aperture.

Pals (child and snowman photo) by Brian used under the Creative Commons License

About the author

James Jordan

James Jordan, Digicamhelp Contributing Writer, is owner of James Jordan Photography in Elgin, IL. His portfolio includes portraits for families, seniors and corporations, events, products, travel and landscape photography. His work has been published in travel guides and lifestyle magazines in the Midwestern U.S. A series of artistic landscape prints will be exhibited in Door County, Wisconsin in the summer of 2009.