Tips on Night Time Festive Photography

Photographing Festive Lights at Night

Don't you just love this time of year with the vibrant autumnal colours by day and the variety of colours the Christmas lights project at night? Let me tell you more about photographing festive lights at night.

I want to share with you the best way to photograph at night to capture how spectacular the lights look. Don't leave it up to your camera to decide what setting is best, you'll be disappointed with the results.

Just follow the tips below to get the best out of your DSLR.

  • Use a good sturdy tripod or a gorilla pod if travelling light or want to attach your camera to railings.
  • Select manual mode on your camera.
  • Set White Balance (WB) to AUTO
  • Select 200 ISO
  • Use a memory card at least 8GB - 32GB if selecting RAW files
  • Select L file size - I like to shoot RAW as well as JPEG to record maximum data- this will use a lot more memory.
  • Find where the delayed timer is on your camera and select 10 seconds, this will help settle your camera once you have pressed the shutter to prevent camera shake.
  • Set your aperture to f16.
  • Set your shutter speed to 10" (seconds).
  • Find where your histogram is so you can check the exposure after the first shot.
  • You may need to select manual focus if it is too dark for auto focus.
SMS Creative Photography Oxted Christmas Lights at Night Photography

Now You Are Ready

First find a spot where you want to position yourself and attach your camera to the tripod, make sure it is tight and secure, especially if it is windy and/or there are lots of people walking by.

You don't always have to shoot at eye level, some of the best shots taken are just above ground level, decide what you would like to create.

I have taken many classes at night shooting in Westminster looking over the bridge towards the London Eye, with the camera settings as above.

The benefits of the low ISO and the slow shutter speed are that it allows the camera sensor to pick up the variety of tones and colours, especially if the colours are changing during the 10 second exposure or something is moving.

During the slow exposure the water on the Thames appears very smooth and the wheel is blurred. Take a look at the example below that a participant took during one of my classes.

One thing not to forget is the 10 seconds you have selected to allow the camera to still itself before the exposure, most cameras flash during this time. Don't be tempted to touch your camera until after the full exposure.

You can tweak the exposure by increasing or decreasing the shutter speed once you have seen the image and checked the histogram.

SMS Creative Photography Night Time Photography Westminster

The image below, with the trail lights from a passing bus was taken in the same way as the Oxted and Thames photograph. The skill of this image is the timing as you can miss the moment and is often trial and error, but worth the results.

SMS Creative Photography night Time Photography Class Westminster 1

Would you like to come to one of my classes to achieve great results?  Gather a group of four friends to spend a couple of hours in Oxted or Westminster to produce your own set of photographs like these, please get in touch on 01883 722282

I hope you have found this newsletter 'Tips On Night time Festive Photography' informative, just keep persevering to achieve the results you want, it will be well worth it.

You may just get the photograph you want to use as this years Christmas card.

Christmas Fun

A reminder that next Saturday 6 December is the 'Love Oxted Christmas Festival' for a fun filled family day to get into the Christmas spirit. On this day only, our studio sitting offer, take a look at this link to find out more, just two appointments left.

From 6 - 21 December American Express card holders can use their card with us and and they will give you a £5 statement credit, this is to promote their 'Shop Small' campaign to support local participating businesses.

Thanks for reading

Bye for now.

Stella