As we get closer to Christmas, each day is becoming more and more festive. I’ve grown up spending most of my Christmases in London, and for anyone who has visited London during December you will know that the festive atmosphere is contagious. The glowing Christmas lights on every street have this effect which makes everything warm and bright, and I love to capture this in photos. In this post I’m going to share my top tip for ‘Christmasifying’ any photo you take during this season, and using the lights to your advantage.
You’ve probably seen loads of photos like this on your Instagram feed or all over the internet this time of year, but for me, it took me a while to actually perfect this style of photo. There’s something about using this style which always reminds me of a festive time of year. The whole gist of the ‘Christmasified’ photo is focusing on a subject in the foreground which has a background of lights behind it, but by blurring the background and only focusing on the foreground, the background turns into balls of glowing light which radiate festivity.
Once you know what you’re doing, it’s pretty simple to achieve this style. However, it’s hard to only focus on one point using your phone camera, so I would suggest using an actual camera where you can adjust your settings to achieve this effect. I usually shoot manual on my camera, but if this is something you’re not used to, then feel free to just adjust some of the settings I mention in this post. If you’re shooting on manual like me, be sure to shift your focus to one singular point, or when you push down the button to take the photo, make sure in your viewfinder you see that you’re focusing on one singular point in the foreground (otherwise, you will be taking in the whole landscape and not focusing on anything specific).
Step one for achieving this effect is NOT using flash. Personally, I don’t think using flash with these kinds of photos is a good idea, as the light from a cameras flash is too harsh and I hardly ever use it when taking photos. Instead, opt for a more natural light source, while it’s winter and there are lots of festive lights, it’s probably still going to be a little dark around you. But as long as you have enough light to be able to see what you’re doing, your camera should be able to pick up on your subject.
The most important part of achieving this effect is adjusting your aperture. Your camera’s aperture is basically, how much light is let into your camera when you take a photo. By adjusting your camera to a higher ‘F’ number you’re letting in less light. So not only is your photo darker but also your photo now has a depth of field, because your camera only has enough light to focus on a subject in the foreground.
If you’re adjusting your aperture to let in less light, in order to achieve that depth of field effect which blurs out the lights in the background, you have to make up for this somewhere else in your settings, so that your camera still has enough light to actually take a photo. You can do this by adjusting your shutter speed. Your shutter speed is how long your camera shutter is open for when you take a photo. So by having a lower shutter speed, your photos will be brighter as more light is let in. So to achieve this effect you would need to choose a high aperture number, and a low shutter speed number.
You may also want to change your cameras ISO, which is how sensitive your camera is to light. So if your camera is really insensitive to light, you probably won’t be able to pick up on all of the subject. By changing your cameras ISO number, to something higher your camera will be more sensitive to light. My last tip for capturing your subject in the best way is to ‘meter’ off your subject. So when you press down on your camera button to take the photo be sure that you’re focusing on a specific point on your subject, so that your camera picks up on it.
Aperture – High ‘F’ number (your aperture is always 1/the ‘F’ number, so a higher number means a smaller fraction)
Shutterspeed – Low number
ISO – High number
I hope that you enjoyed this post! I usually don’t write posts this in-depth about one specific type of photo, but I thought that it might be useful to explain how to take this specific type of photo as it’s so festive. Let me know what you thought of this post by liking it or commenting, and if you try using these tips let me know, I would love to see what you come up with!
See you next week,
Little Miss Expat
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