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Okay, so it’s not exactly “almost” Christmas.. but it is almost time to start decorating. And who out there doesn’t like to take photos of all of their decorations..? No one. We all love photos of our Christmas trees and of our outdoor lights.. but, before you start snapping away… take a glance at these tips to ensure you get the best Christmas photos possible.

1. Don’t use flash. Everything about Christmas screams warm and cozy and a hard flash is going to do the exact opposite of what you want. The image may come out crisp and clean, but  it will also ruin the mood of your environment. If possible, use natural light- go outside or open up the curtains and let the sun shine in. (And this goes for all photos.. natural light is always the best possible kind of light.) If you’re indoors, turn on some lamps (just don’t use the overhead light). And if you’re photos end up a little blurry, use a tripod. Don’t have a tripod? No worries. Balance your camera on a table or chair. Even if you think you’re being completely still, you’re not. The littlest amount of hand shake can hand quite a bit of blur to a photo.

2. Use Christmas lights. We all love decorating the house with them so use them in your photos. If you’re taking photos outside, don’t wait until it’s really dark outside. The best time to photograph outdoor lights is about thirty minutes after the sun goes down around twilight (nope, not a reference to the movie). There’s still some light in the sky  will help yield the brilliance of the lights while maintaining the details in the shadow. If you’re trying to take photos of your precious Christmas tree, just make sure a few other lights around the room turned on- this will basically give you the same effect and remember to keep the overhead light off.

3. Turn off AUTO White Balance. By turning off the white balance feature you are going to capture the exaggerated colors that the holidays have to offer. All cameras (even point and shoot cameras) have this ability- just check your owner manual to be sure how to do it as each camera is different. If you don’t want to turn off white balance altogether, you could experiment with the other manual settings to find a color balance that best suits your atmosphere. Don’t get frustrated though… it’ll take some trial and error before you find the perfect setting.

4. Capture the moment. Sure, a photo of the kids in front of the Christmas tree is a classic, but don’t forget to take candid photos along the way. Photograph your child hanging ornaments on the tree or in the middle of baking cookies covered in flour. Not only will photos like that create memories, but they’ll also tell the story of your families Christmas traditions.

5.  Be creative. While you don’t want to miss the shots that are perfectly obvious, don’t forget about the details or different angles. If you have a mirror in the room where your tree is, take a photo in the mirror’s reflection capturing the tree. Get up close with some of your ornaments and capture the detail. (If you’re in manual mode, turn your aperture way down so that the only thing in focus is the ornament and not the tree limbs behind it.) Cover your little one in Christmas lights as if they’re all tangled up in them. Zoom in on your table’s centerpiece. Take a picture of an ornament with you or your child’s reflection in it. And if you decorate differently year to year, you’ll definitely want to make sure you photograph all the different details in the decor. The possibilities are endless. You may even take a photo that will be perfect for next year’s Christmas card.. who knows?!?

Key tips for the perfect photo of your Christmas Tree

  • To get all the details, make sure your aperture is turned all the way up- F16 or higher.
  • Keep your ISO has low as possible to prevent grain or noise in your image and for the best color saturation. But with these settings, you’ll most likely have a higher ISO than you may expect– experiment with different ISO settings in order to get the right amount of light in your image.
  • With a low ISO and a high aperture, you’ll need a really slow shutter speed in order for the camera to capture all the lights. A shutter speed that is open for at least 10+ seconds would be ideal. But, you’ll need a tripod or a flat surface in order to keep your camera stable for that length of time. If your camera has a timer on it, use it. The littlest amount of movement, even just pushing the shutter button, will move your camera and potentially blur your shot.
Key tips for the perfect photo of your ornaments
  • Like I said before, your aperture needs to be turned way down- around 1.2 if your camera allows. This means your aperture is wide open and your image will have lots of blur. You’ll need to focus on the part of the image you want completely clear and then the rest of the image will be blurry adding emphasis on your main subject.
  • Your ISO can vary here- but having a lowest possible ISO is ideal. Remember, the lowers the ISO- the less grainy your image will be. Somewhere around 400 should be good.
  • Shutter speed may also vary, but a 60th (1/60) of a second should be a good setting- any slower and you’ll need a tripod so it doesn’t record any shaking from your hands.

Hope these tips help… if you have any questions- feel free to comment below.. and if you have any tips, please share them with the rest of us. Any moment could be a teachable moment! Happy Shooting! 😉