How do You Take Pictures of Outdoor Christmas Lights?

Whether you’re taking pictures of your own house or of other outdoor Christmas decorations and light displays, Natalie Roberson Photography has a few tips to help you with your photographs. First, experimentation is our number one recommendation. Set aside some time to play with the preset and manual settings for night photography on your camera or smartphone, such as the aperture f number, ISO, and the shutter speed. Each display you capture will have a different area of focus or level of influencing light and require settings adjustments. We highly recommend turning off your flash and using a solid base to set your camera on while you take your photos. A tripod is a great investment, but a smooth and dry surface using your timer will work just as well.

How do You Take Pictures of Outdoor Christmas Lights at Night?

Night photography can be a tricky skill to master. Fortunately, many DSLR cameras come with preset settings for night photography and low light exposure environments. For capturing an entire yardful of Christmas decorations, use a wide-angle lens and set the focus on the brightest part of your shot. If you’re trying to photograph your family in front of Christmas light displays, plan to take these photos at twilight when the Christmas decorations are illuminated and while there’s still some light in the sky to use to see the details in the foreground.

Outdoor Christmas Decorations on a Snowy Front Lawn

What Settings Should I Use for Night Photography?

Set some time aside before photographing Christmas decorations to experiment with your camera’s night photography settings. Adjusting the shutter speed will control the blur, and using a tripod will reduce blur as well. Test your exposure or shutter speed adjusting up to 0.4 – 0.8 seconds.

The aperture is a setting that determines the sharpness with respect to the depth of field by adjusting the diameter of the camera’s “pupil” or diaphragm. This setting allows more or less light into the image – We recommend starting at a larger diaphragm opening of f/2.8 to f/4.6.

We also recommend manually adjusting the image brightness using ISO that defines how sensitive your camera’s light sensor is for that photograph; essentially how the camera reacts to the exposure and aperture levels. A higher ISO will accentuate the details and digital noise in the image, but an ISO of 400 or 800 is probably a good place to start.

Christmas decorations outdoors

How do you Take Pictures of Christmas Lights in the Dark With an iPhone?

Sometimes our favorite Christmas decorations are spotted when we don’t have access to a DSLR camera and we must make do with the built-in night photography settings on our iPhones. Fortunately, the camera technology present in our pockets has increased exponentially in recent years, helping us all with our DIY night photography shots.

Before your next night photography session, the experts at Natalie Roberson Photography recommend perusing through your iPhone’s manual and investigating preset settings like “nighttime photography” or “nighttime portraits”. If your outing seems to be cursed with rain or snow, it might add a dramatic and romantic night photography effect! The Christmas lights will be reflected on the wet pavement or turn on the flash for the sparkling effect of the light on the snowflakes.

Slow down the shutter speed to best capture the full color of Christmas lights and use the burst mode for Christmas decorations that move. To play with different scales, take a few steps in for some close-up, social media-worthy shots. If your camera is having a hard time focusing on what you want the clearest part of the image to be, try tapping that spot on the screen to lock the image’s focus.

Christmas decorations outdoors

How do you Take Photos of Christmas Lights with the Bokeh Effect?

Even if you haven’t heard of the bokeh effect, we’re betting you’ve seen it! Bokeh comes from the Japanese word meaning “blur” and creates a visually appealing effect by focusing part of the image and blurring the rest. This effect is used this time of year to blur background Christmas decorations and lights in an aesthetically pleasing way. Most digital cameras and iPhones do this automatically when you lock in the focus of the night photography shot.

How do you Take Photos in Front of a Christmas Tree with Lights?

While outdoor Christmas decorations don’t need a flash, you may need to use it when capturing pictures of your little ones standing in front of a Christmas tree, especially if the room doesn’t have enough light to see their faces. Try illuminating the dark shadows with a lamp and you may even be able to modify the image in photo editing software as a last resort. We recommend taking a picture with the flash and one without and see which turns out better.

outdoor Christmas

Natalie Roberson Can Help you Capture Your Family and Outdoor Christmas Decorations!

When in doubt about the quality of your night photography or portraits with Christmas decorations, call on the professionals at Natalie Roberson Photography. We have the expertise to capture every child’s excitement and your family’s holiday spirit with all of the lighting challenges the season presents! Contact us to schedule a Christmas decoration photography session!