Any hints for taking pics of Christmas lights?

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. In the next couple of weeks, I may have chances to take pictures of
    local "Cavalcade of Lights" at a couple of places.

    Question 1) Should I even bother... Panasonic FZ5, ISO 80/100/200/400,
    and a mini-tripod, assuming I can find a place to rest the tripod. Max
    exposure time is 8 seconds. The battery is rechargable lithium-ion.

    Question 2) Assuming the answer to 1) is "Yes", what are the best
    settings to use? I don't normally go past ISO 100 due to noise (but see
    item 3 below). But I may have to in order to get a half-decent
    exposure. And probably f/2.8 (the max), again in order to get enough
    light. What's the recommended white balance? Etc, etc.

    Question 3) Assuming I have "high ISO noise", what's the best way to
    get rid of it using Gimp and/or ImageMagick? This'll be *IN ADDITION TO*
    binning. I've found that taking a 2048x1536 ISO 200 image and feeding it
    through ImageMagick's "boxfilter" produces a 1024x768 image with noise
    level similar to an ISO 80 shot.
     
    Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address, Dec 5, 2005
    #1
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  2. Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address

    JohnR66 Guest

    "Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address)"
    If anything, set the camera white balance to tungsten or you'll have a very
    strong orange color cast. Even on tungsten, you will still get a bit of a
    warm tone due to the lower color temp the filaments are driven at in these
    lights. This may look okay. Any remaining light from the sky if it is not
    quite dark will be very blue and make for a wintery cool feeling to the
    shot.
    John
     
    JohnR66, Dec 6, 2005
    #2
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  3. Walter-

    Lights are bright! If you only want the lights, underexpose.

    If you want the background, overexpose to compensate for the bright
    light. You might use a hand-held light meter to measure a subject you
    want to be correctly lighted.

    As someone else suggested, you should experiment. Digital film is cheap,
    and there are lots of local light displays to practice on.

    Fred
     
    Fred McKenzie, Dec 6, 2005
    #3
  4. Thanks to you, and everybody else who replied. Before my usenet
    download, I took a few test shots. I had left the white balance on
    auto, and the orange tint was very strong. I'll experiment some more
    on Tuesday evening.
     
    Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address, Dec 6, 2005
    #4
  5. I've uploaded a test shot to http://www.pbase.com/waltdnes/test
    The original was shot as 2048x1536 tiff, and reduced to 1024x768 jpeg.
    xlites1b.jpg is the same image as the first one, but with gamma boosted
    a bit. Shows more detail, but starts to look more cluttered.

    This was shot from the parking lot of the condo building I live in,
    looking up at the balcony of one of my neighbours. I took several
    attempts. This was the best one. I've copied the EXIF data over from
    the original.
     
    Walter Dnes (delete the 'z' to get my real address, Dec 7, 2005
    #5
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