How to Shoot the Holidays

The holidays are here and the one thing I enjoy the most (besides the eggnog) is capturing the colorful, twinkling Christmas lights in all their glory!
So, get your camera, have a seat and let’s talk about how to shoot the holidays.

If you have a DSLR camera, you know there are many, many settings and sometimes it can be a bit confusing. All of the shots you’ll see today were shot in manual mode so I could control the aperture, shutter speed and expose to my liking.

Say you want to create a beautiful bokeh look, making the lights out of focus and creating these colorful, abstract shapes.
The image below was shot with no ambient light, 50mm, f 3.5 aperture, 1/80 sec. and ISO 4000, on a tripod. I used my manual focus to blur the lights and make this vibrant, abstract version of our tree at night.


This next one was shot at f 1.6, 1/100 sec, ISO 640 on 50mm lens.
Playing with your settings will not only help you to learn what each setting does to your image but will also get you accustom to feeling comfortable with your camera. Don’t be afraid to try!


Now, let’s say you like the bokeh but you want to see more details in your image and the twinkling of the lights. Starbursts are the way to go then.
The image below was shot, once again, with no ambient light. But instead of a wide open aperture, I went with f 22 to create the light rays bursting from each bulb. 50 mm, 30 sec shutter speed (on a tripod) and ISO 100.
Now you can see the ornaments, gifts and details that we missed on the previous images.


Just be sure not to bump the tripod!


Again, below, on a tripod, 50mm, f 22, 30 sec. and ISO 640.
On this one, the stockings and fireplace were showing up under exposed while the candles and lights lit up the mantel area and above. So, I grabbed a flashlight and after I pressed the shutter button, while the shutter was still open, I painted the stockings, etc with the flashlight light until the shutter closed. This allowed me to expose the lower portion of the photo without compromising the light on the upper part of the photo.  And I LOVE it!


Don’t be afraid to experiment! I know the holidays are a busy time for everyone but before you pack up those decorations, set up the camera and tripod (after the kiddos are in bed) and have some fun. Play! You’ll come up with some beautiful images and memories that will last a lifetime!


Feel free to comment, like and share this post. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a session time, you can email me at You can also preview my other work by following me on Facebook at Lynette Blecha Photography and shoot me a message to schedule your session time.
Thanks for stopping by!

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