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Taking holiday photos: top tips

Written by Gail Bjork

Brush up on these digital camera tips to photograph the fun and festivities of the holiday season.

Holiday pcGet ready for the next holiday event. Brush up on these digital camera tips to photograph the fun and festivities.

Be prepared

Make sure you have at least one set of fully charged camera batteries and a large enough memory card. Set the camera to the highest quality and image resolution. Adjust camera settings such as white balance, take some test shots, then let the photo-taking begin!

Taking holiday photos

Get close to your subject – Zoom or move in close to fill the viewfinder/ LCD with your subject.

Posed shots – Don’t be bashful. Direct where people stand and sit. Ask them to move together as close as possible for group photos.

Candid shots – Take natural-looking, non-posed images by photographing people when they are unaware. Try to “anticipate a moment.” If your digital camera responds slowly, pre-focus to help reduce shutter lag.

Get on the eye level of your subject – When photographing a child, get near or on the floor. It’s better to shooting to from the position than from above a subject. When taking a family photo at the table, shoot at the eye level of those seated.

Take more than one picture – Increase chances of capturing a great photo by taking several shots of the same scene or subject. Otherwise, Uncle George may not be thrilled if you photograph him with his eyes closed.

Check the background – Get in the habit of checking how a scene looks in the viewfinder or LCD. Is the background too busy? Is a chandelier or tree coming out the top of someone’s head? If so, take a photo from another angle or ask subject to move to a different location.

Capture the glow of candles and lights – Turn off the flash. Steady yourself to minimize camera shake. Or place the camera on a tripod or table top and use the self-timer.

Get in some the photos – Use the self timer, but figure out where you will stand in a group photo before starting timer. If you ask someone else to take a photo, make sure they know how to use the two-step shutter button correctly.

The majority of holiday photos are taken inside. Here are tips to help you tackle some of the lighting issues you may face.

Back-lighting – Artificial or natural light coming from behind a subject can fool an exposure meter. As a result, the foreground images will look under exposed (too dark). Try to shoot from an angle where the main source of light comes over your shoulder. Or, use fill-in flash or a back-lighting scene mode.

Artificial lighting – set the white balance according to the main source of light.

Using the built-in flash

Flash range – Stay within the minimum or maximum flash range otherwise images will be too dark, too light or there will be darkness in the corners.

Flash delay – A delay takes place between shots to let a flash recycle. The length of a pause increases when batteries are low so use fully charged or new batteries for flash photography.

Red-eye – To help prevent red-eye, ask subjects not to look directly at the camera. If possible, increase light in the room or move subjects closer to a window where outside light shines in.

Avoid reflective surfaces – Shiny furniture, mirrors, windows and glass panels cause a flash to be reflected from the surface back into the camera lens. The reflected light will show up in the photo and ruin it.

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.