photographing christmas lights ??

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by James Bass, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. James Bass

    James Bass Guest


    I'm looking for some tips on photographing christmas decorations (outdoor
    lights, in the snow) in the late afternoon & early evening. Any & all help
    is appreciated.

    James Bass, Nov 15, 2003
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  2. James Bass

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    In daylight you would meter as normal -just remember to expose for the
    snow to be white. I would meter the snow and add one stop to the reading
    then bracket around that.
    Early evening can get tricky. Do you want just the lights or the lights
    and background? Minimal exposure will get you points of light on a dark
    field, while givign it more will illuminate areas of teh background. There
    is no way to completely accurately predict what it will take so bracket
    Tony Spadaro, Nov 15, 2003
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  3. Assuming you are also trying to get what the lights are hung on, the
    trick to this is double-exposure. Mount the camera on a tripod and take
    a picture of the object without light. When it gets dark, take a
    picture of the lights. The trick is to get the two exposures right, and
    it has been so long since I did it that I don't really recall. You will
    need to talk to somebody who has done it recently enough to suggest
    correct exposures.
    Robert Peirce, Nov 15, 2003
  4. You are on the right track. Finding just the right time to get the
    effect of the lights themselves and the object they are on is a little bit
    of a trick. Since you crossposted to both digital and traditional ngs I
    can't offer much advice as the tricks are different for the different

    I suggest you also consider rain as well as snow. It does not need to
    be raining, but the reflections can be a great effect.
    Joseph Meehan, Nov 15, 2003
  5. James Bass

    Ron Andrews Guest

    IMHO, the best pictures or outdoor lights are taken at night with snow
    on the ground. You will need a tripod to shoot long exposures. If you have
    any interior lights on, keep them low or they will overwhelm the Christmas
    lights. It is good to have some light on the house exterior in addition to
    the Christmas lights. A full moon on a clear night is ideal. If the weather
    and lunar cycles don't cooperate, you can try multiple flashes during the
    time exposure.
    Ron Andrews, Nov 15, 2003
  6. James Bass

    mcgyverjones Guest

    A cross-hatch filter (or piece of window screen) can be an interesting
    effect too, just don't overdo it. Gives star effect and slight softening.

    mcgyverjones, Nov 16, 2003
  7. James Bass

    jam Guest

    Please see my reply in the recent thread "Night photo question"
    Jeremy McCreary
    Denver, CO

    | Hello,
    | I'm looking for some tips on photographing christmas decorations
    | lights, in the snow) in the late afternoon & early evening. Any &
    all help
    | is appreciated.
    | -thanks
    jam, Nov 16, 2003
  8. James Bass

    Guest Guest

    Dress warmly. Carry along side your camera gear a silver flask filled with
    single malt scotch. After each shot of christmas decorations, take a hearty
    swig from the flask. By the time you return home after 36 frames, you will
    feel very good about the evening's photographic activities. Cheers.

    Guest, Nov 16, 2003
  9. James Bass

    zeitgeist Guest

    the main trick in photographing xmas lights is to get the lab to print the
    images down, they tend to average the whole scene, which contains a lot of
    dark areas to a relatively few bright ones, so they will make the blacks a
    washed out gray.

    if digital you would want to meter or aim the sensor at an area near the
    lights, so the lights will still blow out bright but leave enough detail in
    the surrounds, if you can, walk up the some partially lit areas and lock an
    exposure in.

    best time to shoot is when there is still a bit of detail, late twilight
    when the sky is deep purple, but you can still sorta see. again you will
    want to print the image down as all meters will want to get into the medium
    gray tone.

    tripod is essential.

    don't use flash.

    make use of your camera's white balance, read the windows that are lit by
    tungsten bulbs and the windows, especially if there is cool Norman Rockwell
    christmas tree visible, will be warm/neutral and the snow will be a burrrr
    cold blue.

    you could try and find some tungsten balanced film but for some reason I've
    never understood, they don' sell any that fast. Like who ever heard of a
    really brightly lit scene with tungsten lights, duh.

    oh, did I mention a tripod.

    just to make sure, tripod.
    zeitgeist, Nov 26, 2003
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