How to Photograph Holiday Lights
'Tis the season to be jolly! The season of lights - from Christmas trees
to Hanukkah candles to decorative house lighting. Lights...lights...lights
to cheer up the long dark nights of winter. According to Chuck DeLaney,
Dean of the New York Institute of Photography (NYI), the world's largest
photography school, your pictures can capture the magic of this lighting if
you apply just one simple professional "trick."
For example, how can your pictures capture the colorful glow of the lights
on a Christmas tree? The "trick", according to NYI, is to turn off
camera's flash! That's the key: Turn off that handy built-in flash.
Because otherwise the bright light will overwhelm the subtle tree lights in
your picture. Similarly, NYI recommends that you turn off your flash
whenever you want to capture any subtle light source - from Christmas trees
to Menorah candles to decorative house lighting to those wonderful tree
outlines produced by tiny white bulbs.
Of course, certain things follow from this: When you turn off your flash,
you won't have enough light for split-second exposure. Your automatic
camera will compensate by opening the shutter for a longer time - maybe a
second or longer. Let your camera's built-in meter decide automatically.
But a very long exposure will become blurry if either the camera moves or
the tree lights move, or both. To minimize this risk, NYI recommends two
further steps: First, use fast film - for example, ISO 800. This will cut
down the duration of the exposure. Second, steady your camera. Handholding
just won't do. Use a tripod if possible. If not, place the camera on a
solid surface, such as a tabletop, or brace it against a wall.
Today's fast films make it easy to capture the lights of your favorite
winter holiday," explains DeLaney. He adds: "One other tip for
outdoor lights is to shoot at dusk or twilight instead of later when the
sky is pitch black."
Reprinted with permission from the New York Institute of Photography website
Red Eye. This is caused
by the flash reflecting from the back of the eye. To stop this either
use a faster film and no flash, or if you have to use a flash bounce or
angle the the light from the ceiling or wall. -- Y Chan, Sydney
It is usually best to take photos of people in the shade, because you
won't get such harsh shadows, and people squinting. Shade is more
flattering to skin tones. Shoot several pictures, because you rarely
get it right on the first try. Have plenty film handy. -- S Ed.
If you keep photographic film at home it is best stored in the fridge
as it extends its shelf life. Freezing film can extend shelf life by up
to a year. -- Sheila
Camera Mounting Screw Fitting: The
thread used to mount a camera on a tripod is a 1/4 inch UNC threaded
screw . The same thread is found on most CCTV cameras . Heavy duty and
weighty cameras use 3/8 inch UNC. UNC stands for UNified Coarse. The
original plan was to develop an international standard but ISO and
Metric seem to be the default. Trying to use a 5mm screw will result in
damage. - David Yang