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csmith

Taking night time pictures of your Christmas display

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Tried taking pictures of your display at night and ended up with lots of blurry lights or a picture that looks like it was taken during the day?

Been there. Done that.

Your camera defaults to thinking every picture it takes should be lit like it's noon under a full sun. At night your camera holds the shutter open until it gathers enough light to look like the sun's out. Unfortunately, when the shutter is open the camera must be rock solid stable and humans aren't good at holding things steady.

The pros take pictures at twilight... those few minutes in the evening right as the sun is setting.

I'm not a pro.

If you have a tripod, use it. It will make all the difference in the world.

If you can control how your camera takes pictures, set it for night shots.

If you can control how long your shutter stays open, keep it short enough to capture light but not long enough to expose like it's noon.

If you can control your camera ISO (think how sensitive the film is to light) then go ahead and crank it up high. You'll see a little noise in your digital images but the exposure will be shorter so the chances of a blurry shot are less.

Dark pictures taken with digital cameras can be greatly enhanced using software (Photoshop, Picasa, etc.) Blurry photos are, well, useless.

Finally, with digital cameras, take a gazillion pictures using various camera settings. You'll end up with the "money" shot eventually.

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I noticed professional photographer taking photos of our lights last night and he took two of every shot. He said sometimes he gets a better photo on the second shot.

thanks for the information, Chuck. I'm makking notes to check my settings. I'm sure they will benefit from your post.

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A little more info... Most digital camera allow you to adjust the exposure plus or minus 3 settings to the darker or lighter. Many of the simplest models allow some manual user control. Read your user manual and learn about those seldom used manual settings. They can make all the difference in a great display picture and a snap shot.

All of my photos are taken from a tripod with a remote shutter release and all pics are bracketed (as it's called) taking the same photo darker and lighter than the camera recommends and never, never use a flash. All cameras have a way of turning the flash off. Keep shooting until you get a good one.

Remember too, if you're taking pictures of your own display, set the lights the way you want them after the show and shoot for as long as it takes to get the shot. I just spent 3 hours in the freezing cold shooting pics of my display in the first white Christmas in Atlanta in 133 years.

It can't be stressed enough in this day of digital photos, keep shooting until you get the picture you want. I've shot over 1000 pictures this year. 900 of them will be deleted but check my facebook link in the signature to see about 80 good ones.

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post-5171-129571264774_thumb.jpg

post-5171-129571264779_thumb.jpg

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Nice Shots - Red!

A DSLR Camera, if you have one works the best, as it gives you a lot of settings to play with to get the best picture. I've played with mine this year, and found, like most, that the ISO and the exposure is what determines how good of a picture you get :)

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Nice Shots - Red!

A DSLR Camera, if you have one works the best, as it gives you a lot of settings to play with to get the best picture. I've played with mine this year, and found, like most, that the ISO and the exposure is what determines how good of a picture you get :)

if you have a bracking control on your camera, most Nikon DSLR do, use that as well to find exosure that might be good

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to recap(and what I have done)

set your Christmas light as you want them

tripod

remote triger(or time delay)

bracket shots

take LOTS of pictures

have fun:

I took a few where I zoomed in while taking the picture, gave a warp effect.

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I've been shooting professionally for years for our clients and for our own shots during the season. Here are my suggestions with a digital camera (digital slr's are going to be your best route):

1. Get out the tripod! Good night shots can not be done without it.

2. Set your camera to the "M" mode for manual.

3. Set your ISO speed to 200. This will give you the cleanest pictures without and graininess or "noise".

4. Set your aperture setting to F8.

5. Now we need to experiment with your shutter speed. Start out at 1/60 of a second. Take a picture, then preview it, if it's too dark, try 1/30th of a second. Keep adjusting your shutter speed until the picture looks good.

This is a trial and error method, but you will learn quickly how to set it up properly. If done correctly, the pictures should look like the following:

http://flic.kr/p/ag6Bnh

http://flic.kr/p/ag6Boj

http://flic.kr/p/ag3QUR

Brought to you by:

Bright Christmas

http://www.brightchristmas.com/

Edited by brightchristmas1

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