It’s that time of year again where we sing festive songs, celebrate with family, look for the best deals, and hang decorations. In honor of the festive season, Jay P. Morgan from The Slanted Lens has released the following video tutorial on how to photograph Christmas lights.

There are a few basic guidelines to taking great Christmas lights photos. Jay P. breaks down the process in 5 easy-to-follow steps. Here are just a few.

Time of Day

If you have ever tried to take pictures of Christmas lights, they can become almost stark against the black of night. The best time to be out shooting is around dusk or very early morning where the there is little daylight. You will want just enough ambient light where  the house still has detail and separation from the sky.

[REWIND:Creative and Simple Holiday Portrait Ideas]


Don’t Use Flash

Though it may seem like a good idea to illuminate the scene with on/off camera flash, it might ruin your exposure. The Christmas lights have a constant exposure and combined with the surrounding ambient light, there will be plenty of light for a blurry free exposure. If you are interested in learning how to sculpt with flash, keep an eye out for our Lighting 101 course which we are filming right now.


 Camera Settings

White Balance – Tungsten or Daylight
Shoot Raw
ISO – 620 or higher (stay close to your camera’s native ISO for a cleaner image)
Aperture – f/5
Shutter Speed – 1/8th of a second

Watch ‘How to Photograph Christmas Lights’

It is important to remember that you have a very limited timeframe of around 15 minutes to get the shot you desire; otherwise, the ambient light will be too bright or too dark. Experiment with the technique to find out what works for you. Don’t forget to share your images in our Facebook Community Group or our Constructive Critique section.

[Via The Slanted Lens / Images Screen Captures]