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Christmas photography

Written by Gail Bjork

Follow a few proven tips to obtain memorable photos of family and friends at Christmas.

Christmas. What a magical time of year for untold numbers around the world! Christmas photography can be quite rewarding. Simply follow some of these techniques and capture the joy as you celebrate with friends and family.

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Be creative

Get close up and personal. Fill the frame with the subject to capture detail and facial expression.

For more natural-looking photos, snap candid, spontaneous shots when subjects aren’t looking. Also shoot from various angles. Kneel or get down on the floor for more interesting and dynamic pictures.

Using a flash and adjusting white balance for inside photos

Stay within the recommended flash range to help ensure proper exposure. If your camera has a flash compensation setting, adjust the output stronger or weaker as needed.

For better exposure, turn on extra lights in the room to augment the built- flash.

Unfortunately, many people never change the auto white balance setting in their camera and the resulting image color can be far from what they expect. So if you want the color in photos to look as close to what your eyes see, change the setting to match the predominant lighting in the room. However, you may also want adjust the white balance to create a mood. Watch the color changes on the LCD as you adjust the white balance setting.

Avoid red eye

Photos of people are always disappointing if red-eye is present. After taking a shot, review the image on the LCD and retake if necessary. Take steps to reduce red-eye or you can remove it when editing photos. Some digital cameras have a few built-in editing features such as red-eye removal.

Using a flash outside

When taking outside photos in the evening, if the main subject is in the foreground and there are lights in the background scene, use a Slow-sync flash or Night Scene mode. The flash illuminates the foreground subject but the shutter is slow enough to capture the background lights. Because exposure can vary from long to very long for this type of shot, steady the camera by using a tripod or other camera support.

When not to use the flash

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To capture the warm glow of Christmas lights, don’t use a flash. Unless you use a camera support, you may have to increase the ISO, the camera’s sensitivity to light. When the ISO setting is higher, less light is needed to make an exposure. The trade-off can be image “noise” but noise is better than having no photo at all.

When photographing through glass, don’t use a flash. If you notice glare, take the picture from a slightly different angle to prevent reflections. Or, if your camera accepts filters, use a polarizing filter if there is sufficient lighting.

Take some outside evening photos

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Snowmen by Les Haines

One of the best times to take photos at Christmastime is at dusk. There is just enough light to capture both scene detail and the Christmas lighting. Like almost all low-light photography, use a camera support if the camera shake warning come on.

Related reading: Holiday photography checklist

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.