|Photo Tip & Assignment #11Holiday Season LightsHistorically, Winter Festivals have been the most popular festivals of the year in many cultures and civilizations.
Independent of your background or faith, as a photographer, it is impossible to pass December without noticing the flickering lights. In many countries, communities are booming with winter wonderlands and markets. Be inspired by the festive mood to try to capture the essence of Holiday Season Lights.
With the winter solstice approaching in the northern hemisphere, we are going through the darkest days of the year. It might explain why we decide to light everything up with candles, fairy lights and fire places. In the absence of natural light, a photographer must look for other opportunities to shoot. There cannot be a better time than winter to sharpen your skills photographing at night and low light conditions.
As there is little light, I would suggest that you start with the widest aperture of your lens (small f/number), and at least 400 ISO (or higher). Modern cameras give excellent quality at very high ISOs, but make a test first to check until what ISO noise will be acceptable to you. High ISO can result in “grainy” pictures. It was beautiful in film photography but digital grain, called “noise” can ruin your great photographs.
A small tripod might come handy. You will be prone to more camera shake in the cold. A little tip that will help those who, like me, never carry a tripod around, is that you can underexpose night shots. Yes, although it sounds against the logic, underexposing night photographs between 1 and 2 stops results in a more accurate exposure than if you shoot with the light meter on zero (or null). Assuming you are using MANUAL mode of exposure, underexpose by increasing the shutter speed (not closing the aperture). This small change can be the difference between a sharp and a shaken photograph.
The image (left) was taken at Covent Garden Market, without flash, at ISO 400, underexposing 1 and a 1/3 stop. The performers were moving constantly but the shutter speed was fast enough to freeze the image and long enough to capture the background lights as well.
You can also go the opposite way on the shutter speed road and experiment with slow shutter speeds. With camera on tripod, capture moving lights. If you are feeling more adventurous, move the camera (twisting or zooming) for a couple of seconds or more. The key to success here is experimenting. After that, make your own Season’s Greeting cards!
Upload your Holiday Season Lights images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #11 for a chance to win a £150 Discount Voucher towards Courses and Workshops at LSP*.
Photo and Text: Luciana Franzolin