Take Better Pictures of Your Christmas Tree
Capturing the Magic of Holidays
There is a general misconception about using flash to take photos of your Christmas tree lights. Flash (on or off camera, even when bounced off the ceiling) will ruin the lights on your tree, leaving you with an overexposed subject and a dark light-less tree in the background. Forget the flash. Instead grab your tripod and switch your camera on manual mode. You will need to use a super slow shutter speed and get your subjects to be as still as possible. Easy to say hard to do with a 2 year old. My best trick – use your smart phone to play your child’s favorite cartoon and mount the phone on one of the tree branches. Tricky but works, every time. He or she will be still for just enough time to snap a few shots.
But before you do anything, get your camera ready.
You will also need short but open lens, f2.8 or wider. I mounted my camera on my Manfrotto tripod, low enough to where I had to kneel to take the shot, and used the following settings with my 35mm f1.8 lens:
ISO 320 / Shutter Speed 1/15 / Aperture f1.8
Get this done, then get your child ready. I won’t lie, there was some bribing involved here, at this age it’s hard to explain and reason with her, especially when it comes to photography! I am no stranger to using every trick in the bag to get the shot. Here, I put on some Russian cartoons she loves on the phone and set it onto one of the branches. Voila! A few seconds of complete stillness and engagement. Bam, done!
While this worked for my child, I know it may not work for every child. If yours is the type to want to climb up the tree to get the phone, you may want to think about a different way to distract and occupy them, and practice caution 🙂 In the last photo here, she was busy, and very engaged, opening a gift, which made for a wonderful photo opp.
I always try to go for the natural look and capture the true (unforced or artificially created) moments. When it comes to Christmas tree photos, I feel like I can get away with “setting the stage” and letting the magic happen. Hope you try this next Christmas and let me know how it goes!