This time of year there are cool lights everywhere, inside and outside. Here are some guidelines to get great images of this festive lighting. Of course, you can use these techniques in any other season too.
Couple of things to do first; use a tripod. These will be longer exposures. Without something to stabilize your camera, the images will show up camera movement. Turn off your built in flash.
Best time of day, if outside, is just after sunset; around the 30 minutes after point. The weather conditions will need to guide you. Essentially, you are looking for the time of day when the sun is gone but there is still light in the sky. The sky and shadow areas will come of as bluish, giving the lights a very warm glow by contrast. It also fills the shadows in so you don’t have just a dark void around where the lights are.
Set your camera to manual mode.
For a starting point, try your shutter speed at 1/15 of a second, f-stop or aperture at 5.6 with your ISO set to 800. Consider changing your white balance settings. If you put it to Daylight the lights will take on golden glow or hue but the sky and ambient light will be a proper color. Set the white balance to Tungsten to get richly colored lights along with a blue tint to the ambient light. This will be seen as a sky with a nice rich blue color.If you would like the lights to sparkle with a starburst effect, change your aperture to f18, adjusting the exposures for a longer time. To get what is called a Brokah effect, where the out-of-focus lights become large and soft, make your aperture as small as you can, F4 or f2.5 if your lens allows. Have fun and experiment with zooming and other movements to get an out-of-the-box seasonal image. It’s a great excuse to get outside and see all of the displays!
Mark Laurie map, spa, FellowPPOC
Mark is a photographer, instructor and writer. His 35 yr old Calgary based studio specializes in photographing women. Mark has had his own TV show, written 3 books plus 4 limited edition books. His Revealing Venus experience workshops run out of Italy.