How to Photograph Your Christmas Tree

It’s that time of year again. Christmas is upon us. Your tree is all decorated and presents are piled up underneath. So how do you take photos of your Christmas tree? Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t use flash.

Although this may seem counter-intuitive, if you use a flash, it’ll evenly light the tree, but it will also overpower any lighting you’ve put up. So keep the room lit by whatever light you usually use, and keep the lights on the tree switched on.

2. Use a tripod.

Since you’re going to be using the ambient light in the room, you’ll be using a slow shutter speed. Without a tripod, your shots will come out blurry. Don’t worry of your camera is telling you it needs 20-30 seconds to take the shot. It’s not like the tree is going anywhere, is it?

3. Set ISO to a low setting.

Since you have a tripod, there’s no hurry to use a fast shutter speed. You can also keep the ISO low, say 100 or 200. This will keep noise to a minimum.

christmas photography

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones; ISO 800, f/5.3, 0.8-second exposure.

4. Blur the background.

Depending on what the tree may have behind it, you may want to use a wide aperture (around f/4) to make sure any background is as out of focus as possible.

5. Create starbursts.

However, if you shoot at f/16, yes, you’ll get the background of the tree in focus, but as a very nice side effect, all the lights will have little starbursts around them. This is a result of shooting with a small aperture in low light photography.

6. Get close.

In addition to shooting the whole tree, shoot some close ups of the branches and lights, as well. Remember that if you shoot a close up of a shiny bauble, you’ll also likely get a shot of yourself reflected in it.

christmas photography

Photo by Susanne Nilsson; ISO 6400, f/5.6, 1/125-second exposure.

7. Reduce camera shake.

If you have a cable release, then use it. If not, use the camera’s self-timer to make sure you minimize any possible camera shake from pressing the shutter.

8. Include people.

Remember to document your friends and family during the holiday season. If you want to take a shot with the family in the frame, you’re going to have to raise the shutter speed to something a bit more reasonable, but try not to go over around 1/50 of a second.

Although this is at the limit for hand-holding the camera, your family should be able to stay still for long enough to still capture a great shot.

About the Author:
Phil Moore (PhotographySecretsRevealed) is an experienced London based professional photographer.

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