Christmas is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and photogenic times of year. It is a time where any photographer can find a wealth of subject matter, beautiful scenes, a multitude of models to capture and that reflect the season and little need to travel far to find subject matter, be it people carolling, Christmas lights or other festive scenes.
Firstly, make sure that your camera is packed and ready to go. It may be wise to have some extra batteries, and a charger if those batteries are able to be recharged, some extra memory cards that can be used, a flash should you be shooting in low light conditions or if there is not one built in to the camera and this will help to create some extra dramatic lighting. An external flash will allow for light to be bounced off the ceiling or walls to create interesting lighting effects or diffused creating softening effects.
Use a Tripod
A tripod could be used if you want to take long exposures or some pictures of all the family together and include yourself in them. Group photos are good and a nice memory of the season. In most cases, group pictures are taken at the end of the evening, and it can be a slow process of gathering people for the picture. It may be wise to take group pictures at the beginning of the evening or event, just after everyone has arrived. People are fresher and less tired and will photograph better. It will be also easy to gather the children, as they will be less tired and excited.
It is always a wise idea to pay attention to your white balance settings. Given that some pictures maybe taken inside using artificial light, this may affect the colour balance of the images. Cameras with the potential of being able to shoot in RAW format is worth considering as an option, as this means that you can focus on the white balance in post processing.
Capture Christmas Lights
One of the most beautiful things to capture at Christmas are the lights. They create vibrant lighting and different effects. It is worth considering taking pictures of Christmas lights at night as the contrast between the sky, and the different colours adds vibrancy and causes the lights to stand out against the dark background. In these instances, a long shutter speed will have to be used as to ensure maximum clarity and detail. ISO of around 200-400 is a good starting point, ensure that the camera is in Night mode and then try using an aperture of around f/8. Shooting in manual mode is a preferred option, and from here the shutter speed can also be adjust accordingly. If the images come out under exposed, increase the time of the shutter speed and keep it open for longer. Keep increasing the time until you are happy with the colour and exposure of the image. When working in this way, should there be moving objects or people in the scene, these parts will start to exhibit signs of motion blur, so pay attention to what subject matter is chosen, and use the camera and its settings in the way that works best in the situation.
Plan for Christmas Photos
Pictures do not need to be just taken on the day. The build up to Christmas and after is just as fun to document and look back on. This includes the setting up of the Christmas table, wrapping presents, putting up decorations, dressing and the lighting of the tree, and also the preparation of food on Christmas day. For those that are interested, there are also options for creating time-lapse videos, maybe for example, of Christmas day lunch or over the festive period. By using a camera and setting it up to take images every few seconds or minute, there is software that will allow these pictures to be condensed in to a movie and that will display the entire time period and to able to be watch over and over.
Find New Ideas
Take a walk and keep you camera with you. At this time of year there will be many photograph opportunities. There is no worse feeling than seeing something and regretting not having a camera. There will be chances to take pictures in the streets, late night shopping, Malls, in the countryside. This time of year provides some exceptional lighting situations. The sun remains low through out the day, and if and when the cloud breaks and the sun break through, long shadows are formed with dramatic lighting.
Christmas is a great time of year with some many possibilities for great picture taking, so don’t forget to take pictures as well as enjoy the time with family. Focus on the eyes and expressions of people, which in themselves reflect and exhibit the Christmas spirit and intimacy of family. Take pictures of the ornaments and family around you and remember, if the pictures don’t come out as intended the first time, reassess the settings and then change the camera to better suit the situation. Happy Christmas!