after the storm

after the storm
Welcome autumn!

Monday, December 6, 2010

phototgraphy fun with holiday lights...

Don’t you love the lights of the holidays? They give a lovely glow and set the mood for the festivities. I am pretty much a white lights kind of girl. I don’t especially like them to flicker or race. I just like the quiet, peaceful look. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate seeing all other kinds at other people’s houses, because I do. We have what our kids call “old school” lights across our roof – the big bulbed multi-colored lights. I would rather have a peaceful white there too but I bow to tradition.

Starry lights
It is possible to get a star effect on holiday lights without using a filter. Set a very small aperture (higher number, I know, I know, SO confusing!). For these photos, I used an aperture of f/22. Because you are using such a narrow aperture, you will need to have a long shutter speed which will mean a long exposure. Your pictures will be blurred if you handhold these shots, so use a tripod or some other steady surface. A table, a chair, a stack of books, a step stool, anything that is flat and steady will do. Obviously, tripods are easier because of the mobility but don’t let the lack of a tripod stop you. Set your camera to aperture priority and set the number to f/22. The camera will figure out how fast to make the shutter speed. Be sure not to use a flash. That will spoil the whole effect. Bracket your exposures, trying different settings. You may have click to make these photos larger to see the star effect.

Even the traffic lights are a lovely Christmas red and green.

Look at the star effect on the lights on top of the armoire. These are just ordinary small white lights.

Crazy lights
The holidays give us lights that we don’t normally have available the rest of the year. It gives us a lot of opportunity to play.
This first image is a shot of the tree in front of our downtown library, taken in a standard way.

This image uses the zoom technique. For this shot, I had my camera on a tripod and zoomed in and out with my lens while the shutter remained open, again for four seconds. To get your shutter speed slow enough, set a small aperture (remember, larger numbers) and keep a low ISO number (which will also help prevent a lot of grain). I was using a 24-78 zoom on this but any zoom lens would work.

This is a shot of a front entry. The zoom light effect is from color lights across the roof line and little white lights around the arch and on a small tree.

For this one I twirled the camera while my shutter remained open for 4 seconds. You can see the streaks from the big bulb kind of lights and the smaller white ones.

Hope you have a chance to play around with holiday lights. You'll never know what you will get.


food for thought said...

oh this was fun! love all your twirls and whirls~

Blondie's Journal said...

Your pictures are amazing, Barbara!Thanks for all the tips and ideas. I have to remember to set my camera down while taking a picture of the tree...they always come out blurry.

Have a wonderful week!


Johanna said...

Hello Barbara,
yes, those photos are really amazing. What a fun to play with the camera. Great job.
Greetigns, Johanna

Sherry said...

This is so cool! I can't wait to try the zoom effect. I have seen this type of photo but, didn't know how they did it. Thanks for the tips!

Paige Thomas King said...

cool beans! i'm going to share this post with my daughter--she's got a better camera than i do and will be able to try your techniques.
thanks for sharing.

- Brittany said...

Very fun! I haven't played with the shutter open since art school. I'll have to do that soon. I took some cool pictures the other night as it was snowing in NC! in DEC! Almost unheard of...


Prior said...

great photos! Glad you posted them! Lezlee

destiny said...

Love your blog and LOVE these light techniques! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I need to invest in a tripod!! I may need to add that to my Christmas wish list!

Darcy from The I.Design Box said...

Gorgeous photos and I love the button ornament. It's inspired me to try a little project of my own... for some reason I now think I can sew. Ha!

justine said...

came across from picture holidays, what a gorgeous blog you have here, absolutely lovely and wow your photography is great.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Very cool holiday lights! I loved that heart with the buttons that you have hanging from the tree too.

Karen said...

Wonderful photos. I've been practicing and hopefully will get a few up before too long! I love white lights, too, and one year had them on the tree. The rest of the family, however, wanted to go back to colored lights---the star effect isn't quite as lovely.

Lisa Clarke said...

I wish my aperture could go so small - I love the star effect!

Jan said...

Stopped by to see all your holiday loveliness! See you back at Picture the Holidays!

Kat Sloma said...

Love the zoom ones - that's one I haven't tried before Barbara! :) Thanks for always adding something new. I can always learn from you.