Coffee With Beryl: Christmas Light Photography

Today I am posting a guest post from Beryl. Thank you for sending this my way!!!

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On your mark. Get set. Ready or not here come the holidays!


With my list of tasks to accomplish in the next month it's hard not to become overwhelmed and stressed with this time of year. I really wanted a day to myself to get a head start on checking items off the holiday to-do list. There are gifts to buy, presents to wrap, projects to craft. But, in the end, family time won over. It was more fun staying in and snuggling with my favorite loves. Which, in the end was the BEST because it gave us time to get to work on my FAVORITE part of the holidays instead. Trimming our tree. A big part of my infatuation with the tree? The photo opportunities!!! I love the orbs of light and beautiful glow a Christmas tree can add to photos. Aren't these just lovely?
In technical photography lingo that amazing blurry glow is called "bokeh". And the awesome thing is, dreamy photos like the ones above are incredibly easy to create. Are you ready for your photo lesson for the month, and the BEST holiday photos you've ever captured?
Here's what you'll need:
  1. Camera (you can achieve 'bokeh' with either a point and shoot or dslr camera)
  2. Holiday lights (if your tree is ready, great! If not just grab a string of lights, plug them into the wall and play with them laid out on your floor or draped over the back of a couch, headboard, etc...)
  3. A subject to photograph (could be your kids, however if you want to practice on a target that doesn't move first I suggest grabbing a doll, teddy bear, Santa figurine, whatever you have on hand)
Your assignment:
  1. Setup your subject at least 5-10 feet in front of your tree or twinkle lights (the more distance between your subject and the lights the larger the orbs will be)
  2. Set your camera to the letter "A" or "Av" (not, AUTO but "A" or "Av"), and use your dial to set the number on the display to a low number (2.8 is ideal if you can go that low, if not try keeping it at 4 or 5.6)
  3. I prefer to turn my flash off, but you *might* need to turn it back on in order to get an image that is not blurry. (more on flash below...)
  4. Make sure as you push the shutter halfway down and hear that 'beep' that your focus point in the viewfinder is lighting up on your subject. If your subject is what gets lit up then snap away! The lights in the background will be nicely blurred beautiful orbs.
A few notes on flash:
  • I prefer to use no flash whenever possible. (just my personal preference since as a mom I hate having extra equipment to lug around or set up).
  • Photos without flash will always be easier to capture the more light you have available.
  • Free free to turn the twinkle lights on during the day and take the photos using the natural light streaming in from windows (face your subject towards the light or else you might have photos that look a little like THIS).
  • If you take your photos in evening after the sun has gone down turn on the twinkle lights AND any other lamps in the room.
  • Trying these photos in the evening can easily result in blurry images if you don't have a steady hand. Try keeping your camera steady by balancing it on a table or attaching it to a tripod if you have one.
  • If your night time images are TOO blurry then try then again with them same settings and the flash turned ON and see what happens.
Don't forget to come share your results with me on Facebook or via email HERE once you're done! I'd love publish a holiday round up chock full of YOUR images over on my blog later this month. Go now, capture the magic, and do show me. Until next time. Happy snapping! xo.

P.S. Are you feeling overwhelmed and stressed as we enter into the mad rush of the holiday season? Come join me for a FREE teleclass on December 12th where I'll be sharing some of the key photography tips that help me capture the magic of the season but still stay present for my family and sane throughout the month of December too. It's easy to register. Just click HERE for all the call details and get yourself signed up.

Beryl Ayn Young is a wife, mama, teacher, and photographer who offers photography lessons to nourish the mind, body, and soul over on her personal blog. Beryl believes in lifelong learning, photographic healing, & a glass half full perspective. She teaches e-courses and and provides photo coaching aimed at teaching you how to improve your camera skills and cherish life’s journey. Come join Beryl for a FREE teleclass on December 12th: A gift for moms ~ The present of being present this holiday season.

2 Comments:

Cristina December 5, 2012 at 2:17 PM  

thanks so much for sharing!

Mahana Marie hElena Ortega December 5, 2012 at 7:32 PM  

omgsh! I love this! Thankyou so much!