Sunday, December 6, 2009

Taking Holiday Photographs

With Christmas on the horizon, here are a few tips to making your holiday photographs a bit more interesting.

1. Bokeh

What is bokeh? Bokeh involves making something deliberately out of focus and having it work well in an image. You can do this using any number of objects, but the most popular would be background lighting. Bokeh will give an image a very abstract feel. Don't be afraid to try something more creative in a holiday image.

Christmas colors
Christmas Colors in Abstract

2. Lights

Perhaps you want to photograph the lights and have them actually be in focus. My first tip would be to use a tripod and a shutter release. If you don't have a tripod, look for a solid surface - a table, fence post, or railing - instead. And if you don't have a remote shutter release, most cameras come with a 2 or 10 second timer which will work just as well.

For images involving lights, I like to adjust my shutter speed manually and I always spot focus. Photographing lights will not require as long of a shutter speed as you think it will. Generally speaking, the longer the shutter is open the less definition you'll see in the lights (which takes you back to bokeh in point one). If you are in doubt as to what speed to use, then don't be afraid to take several photos with different shutter speeds. After all, it's better to be "safe, than sorry" later.

Christmas Lights All In A Row
Christmas Lights All In A Row

3. Unusual

Look for unusual subjects and zoom in close. Food, decorations, even seasonal flowers make great holiday images. Decorate your pets or even your children and capture them in action, wrapping presents, baking cookies, or jumping in the leaves.

Sparkles
Sparkles

4. Location

As they say, location, location, location. In this case, I mean go to a holiday themed location, pose the family and capture the moment. It is great for everyone's spirits and fun to remember. Photographs are, after all, about saving one's memories.

Christmas Tree, Grand Floridian Hotel, Orlando, Florida
Christmas Tree, Grand Floridian Hotel, Orlando, Florida

5. Black & White

Try eliminating the color in your images and go for black & white photographs. I prefer photographing in color and then converting the images into grayscale later using Photoshop. But there are many, many other ways which will give you excellent results. Try giving the image a creative frame or overlaying a softening filter. Sometimes a subtle effect will enhance the photo nicely.

White Christmas
White Christmas

Most of all, remember why we are thankful this season. Give time and love to your family and friends, and spend at least one moment with the Father, saying, "Thanks, God, for all you have done for me this year."

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Suzanne Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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