Can you give me some tips for shooting holiday lights outdoors?
We are entering the season when homeowners and communities put up displays of holiday lights. Many communities even run bus tours of elaborate holiday decorations. Many people want to make photo greeting cards of their home and yard decorations.
Your digital camera has one or two Night Scene Modes that adjust camera settings specifically to take photos of night scenes. These Night Scene Modes use a set of menu settings intended to obtain quality image exposures at night. One of the major aspects of the night Scene Modes is that the camera must make a long exposure - about two seconds. Therefore, it is necessary to steady the camera by holding it on a solid surface or using a tripod, otherwise the image will be blurry from camera shake.
Although holiday lights appear best at night, the best time to shoot is at twilight. This is because at twilight there is enough light in the sky to be able to define tree branches and the roof line of a home and other details. It is best to start shooting about 15 minutes after sunset and then take a shot every five minutes thereafter to get the ideal balance of skylight and the holiday lights. Since many lights today use LEDs, you may find that the colored LEDs may photograph as white because they may overexpose.
If your camera has a NIGHT+PORTRAIT Scene Mode, do not use it when it is snowing. This mode fires the flash, and the snowflakes near the camera will appear as white out of-focus blobs in the picture. In fact, the flash should be turned off during any photography in falling snow for the same reason.
If you are shooting in a cold climate, wrap the camera in a scarf or towel before getting in a warm car or going back into the house to avoid condensation on and in the camera. Allow the camera to warm up for fifteen minutes before unwrapping it.
In some cities, department stores may put up elaborate holiday displays in their windows. If you are going to shoot these displays, you can use the flash as long as you shoot at an angle to the window so that you do not get a reflection of the flash in the shot.
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