With Christmas upon us, it’s time to break out our cameras and try our darndest to get photos of our Christmas trees but it can be so hard to capture the real warmth and ambiance of all those beautiful little lights. If you twiddle with manual shooting, you may be trying to photograph your tree with the tools you’ve learned for low light shooting: wide open aperture and high(ish) ISO. Of course, with that combination comes a faster-than-helpful shutter speed and even when you use a slower shutter with your wide open aperture, you might be frustrated that you can’t capture the twinkle of the lights. Further frustrating the process is the fact that the tree is composed of branches that stick out everywhere so shooting wide open means that the camera will likely focus on the nearest branches and make the rest soft and out of focus.
But don’t put your camera away yet! Try this little trick:
- Set your aperture unusually high. I used f/16 for this shot of one of my trees.
- Set your ISO low like around 400
- With the very high aperture and low ISO, you’ll need a slow shutter speed which means that you’ll need a tripod
- When you have that all set up, set your camera to self timer mode so that when you press the button to release the shutter, you aren’t jiggling the camera.
- You may want to manually focus or just focus as usual before hitting the shutter
- When you’re ready to go, press the shutter and wait for the self-timer to set the camera off. You could also use a remote trigger if you have one.
- That’s it! With the high aperture, you’ll get lights that look twinkly and your whole tree will be in focus!
I’d love to see your twinkly trees! Feel free to post them on my Facebook wall!