How to shoot better Christmas lights!

It’s that time of the year again where everyone posts their mediocre Christmas light shots!  Why is it that our photos just don’t do justice to all the light stringing, ladder climbing, and getting jabbed in the face by pointy branches?  Here are some quick tips to help you out!

1.  Shoot earlier!  You do not want the sky to be completely black.  Shoot 15 to 30 minutes after sunset to get some light in the sky, but not so much that it’s overwhelming your teeny-tiny lights.

2.  Turn off your flash!  You spent all that time putting them up, why blow them away with nasty on-camera flash?  On-camera flash is usually a bad thing, but it’s downright detestable here.

3.  Use a tripod!  It’s dark, the exposure time will be long, perhaps even as long as 30 seconds.  You must use a tripod.  If you don’t have one, try leaning against something sturdy.  It’s better than nothing!

4.  Avoid extemporaneous objects!  You do not need your neighbors house in the shot, or that car, or that southwest airliner coming in for a landing.  You might find that backing up and zooming in helps to eliminate your neighbors.  Do everything you can to avoid the clutter!

5.  Finally, if you’re trying to shoot a portrait and you want the typically-desired out-of-focus lights behind your victim subject, zoom in all the way and use your feet to back up to frame the shot.  This will make those lights large and beautiful!

Are you having a specific issue with a photo and need some input?  Let me know!