How To Take This Photo - Christmas Lights Edition
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By Christie Stockstill
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It's arrived, the holiday season -- three photo-heavy, family-style holidays, three months in a row, and people have begun pinning my 'How to Take This Photo/Christmas Tree' pin again.  


I just realized, though, that the link to the tutorial goes nowhere since I changed blogs and subsequently let the domain name expire on the archived blog! Naturally, I don't have a hard copy of that post anywhere, so I thought it would be nice to rewrite it here.  Next step, figure out how to change the link on Pinterest, but one step at a time.



So, here goes...

It's not too terribly difficult, and if you have a camera you can switch to manual, it's even easier.  

My Camera Settings/Lens Info:

Lens: 50mm 

Aperture  f 1.6

Shutter Speed  1/50s  (typically you want to stay above 1/60s for handheld photos, but I chose not to miss the moment grabbing my tripod)

ISO (film speed) 1600

If you don't have a manual option, try switching your camera to portrait mode, and turn off the flash.


Step 1.  Turn on the tree lights and turn off most, if not all, of the other lights in the rooms.  Definitely turn off any lights that shine too brightly on your scene.

Step 2.  Get your subjects ready in simple outfits that won't create strange or undistinguishable silhouettes. Clear the background of clutter.

Step 3. Make sure your ISO is high enough to record the low-light scene relatively sharply.  Mine was set on 1600 for these shots.

Step 4. If you have to, bribe your subjects to be really still.  In low light, you need them to be like statues! It's totally worth it and it's the time of year to splurge on delicious treats, anyway.

Step 5. Click, click, click. Check the back of your camera to make sure you got your shot and grab a treat for yourself.  You earned it! You just got priceless images of your family.


A few more from the next year...

Pretty little bokeh


Trying a black and white for a classic feel

Don't gorget to zoom in (or move in) for a few close-ups!

Remember the critters, although they are even harder to keep still. (Apparently I was boring Dude.)


This is one my 8 year-old took. He could have benefitted from a tripod, but still. I love it and am happy to be in a photo myself!


Feel free to get in touch if you have questions. or via the contact page

I am happy to offer help if I can!  

Leave a comment:
Christie - Maricela, I don't speak Spanish well, but I think I understand your comment. First, thank you for the compliment! Second, the raindrop effect, I think, comes from the reflection of the lights in the mirror just behind my tree. The lights are already out of focus because of the 50mm lens, and I think they blurred even more because of the mirror. Hope this helps!
Maricela moran santiago - Hola, tus fotos sus muy maravillosas yo quieto empezar fotografia y me gustari saber como le diste luz a la foto del gato para que se miren las gotas de lluvia