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House with holiday decorations

The holidays are a time to get together with family and friends, and for cherishing those moments with lots of photos. Since it is the season of giving, I want to share some of my holiday photo tips.

Shoot at Dusk

People love to go out at night and check out the holiday light displays. However, the best time to go is at dusk or twilight, before it’s pitch black. This gives you a small window, but you’ll be able to capture a variety of shots with varying light as the sun sets. Set your exposure for the light, not the sky, and atmospheric light will complement the glow of the lights.

Keep the Flash Off

Don’t use the flash—it will ruin the photo. The flash may interfere with the color of the lights, if it even shows up. It’s best to keep the flash off.

Use a Tripod

If you don’t want to sacrifice image quality, you’ll want to use a tripod. Using a tripod allows you to choose a longer shutter speed to let in more light. And in turn, the longer shutter speed allows you to use a lower ISO, meaning less digital noise and a higher quality image.

ISO

Start with setting your ISO to 400. If you need more light, increase it, but you generally want to stay between 400-800. Remember, the higher the ISO, the more digital noise.

Shutter Speed

Generally, you’ll want to set the shutter speed to between ¼ second and 1 second. Start with ¼ second and go from there, adjusting the shutter speed until get the shot you want. A great option is to use Shutter Priority (S or Tv) so you don’t have to worry about adjusting your aperture accordingly.

White Balance

Set white balance to tungsten (incandescent). The lights are most likely going to be incandescent bulbs, and therefore, using the tungsten setting will accurately render the color of the lights. Even if the lights are LED bulbs, it’s best to use the tungsten setting.

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