#Blogmas - Christmas Photography Tips
Do you know another thing I love about Christmas? Getting lots of pretty shots. A bit of bokeh with fairy lights and lots of depth of field is my kinda vibe, and Christmas allows for lots of arty shots like this. I could photograph decorated trees for days.
I love getting new photography kit for Christmas as well, last year I got a new lens which changed the game completely so it's always fun to give new kit a test run.
Looking back over my last few years of photos over the Christmas period, I can really see the improvements I've made and I'm hoping this year my shots will be better than ever.
Here's some photography tips that have helped me and I continually use to get better photos:
Coping with less light
So the trickiest thing I find in winter with photography is the severe lack of natural light. It's not even just that the days are shorter and if you work during the day, chances are when you get home it's dark, but also that sunny days are few and far between. This can make taking photos a real challenge.
The best tip to counteract this is photography lights, but lol I have none.
The next best thing is a tripod. Pop your camera on one of these and you can slow down the shutter speed and keep the blur to a minimum. Unless you're edgy and that's your thing. Put the ISO up a little (don't overdo it). Use a remote shutter release too if you have one as this will also help reduce blur, but if you don't, set a timer and between pressing the shutter and the photo capturing, the camera should have steadied itself. Turn autofocus off too. And last but not least, the wider the aperture (lower f/ number) the more light you'll let in.
So to summarise:
- Hold the camera still with a tripod
- Reduce blur by using a remote shutter release or timer
- Use manual focus
- Use a higher ISO
- And a lower f/
- Use a slower shutter speed
Low light photography involves a lot of playing around with settings until you can find the perfect balance. Rather than delve straight into manual on your DSLR, try aperture priority mode, or shutter speed priority mode first if you don't feel confident.
I would always try to avoid using the camera's built in flash, it's never a flattering light and can cause harsh shadows. If you really need the extra light, try moving the subject closer to a light or large window (remember to alter your White Balance) or move a light closer to your subject such as a lamp. Failing all this and you really need to use the pop-up flash, diffuse the light so it doesn't utterly flatten the image.
It’s all in the details
One thing that can really improve your photos is by changing the focus of your photos. You can have the optimum settings for that scene, but it still won’t be a perfect photo if that scene isn’t good. Rather than just taking a photo of what you see, think about different angles you could try.
I love taking photos of the details, as well as an overview of the Christmas Dinner table, I’ll take closeups of certain details - maybe the roast potatoes with other trimmings in the background or a glass of bubbly alongside other table decs. Noticing the details in shots can really enhance your photos.
If you want to take better photos, you need to look at everything in your shot, and have a proper look at it after it’s been shot. Your Christmas tree photo could be marred by a bin bag full of wrapping paper scraps by the side of it.
Don’t forget the people
One thing I know I need to improve on is taking more photos of the people who are actually present in the moment. It’s one thing capturing the whole scene and every little detail, but really it’s the people who are going to stand out in your memory, and these are the photos you’ll want to look back on. Get some candid shots of your family around the dinner table, laughing or smiling naturally. Or the look on their faces when they open their presents. These are memories you’ll want to capture and cherish.
Tip: For the perfect present opening shot, try shooting on continuous/burst mode so you have a better chance at getting the perfect picture, plus you get a great series of photos of the change in expression.
The unusual shots
Try taking photos of things you might normally not take photos of. Revolutionary.
For example, putting up Christmas decorations, preparing the food, setting the table, the reactions of people who are giving the present. Action shots are always great such as cracker-pulling and food serving as you can capture your subjects looking natural.
Taking photos over the festive period can be really fun but challenging as well. My overall tip would be to experiment, take more photos than you think necessary and don't forget to enjoy the moment too. I hope these tips are helpful! If you have any others, let me know in the comments :).