Dazzling Photos of Xmas Lights: Camera Settings, Composition & Gear (VIDEO)

The holiday season is in full swing, and with it come numerous once-a-year opportunities for dazzling photos. And regardless of where you live, now is the perfect time to take a drive and photograph the festive lights and decorations that brighten up your neighborhood.

Shooting at night is obviously the way to go, but nighttime holiday scenes call for a different approach than what you typically use for other forms of photography after dark. Small pointed light sources like the tiny colorful Christmas bulbs dotting the scene require special attention to exposure are other variables.

The quick tutorial below from Park Cameras, a leading photo retailer in the UK, is just in time to practice your skills and capture some Christmas magic. Because holiday decorations tend to remain in place until after the New Year, you can leisurely scout locations, make a few tests shots, and return (if necessary) to correct any mistakes.

In this eight-minute episode instructor Gareth Evans covers everything you need to know for making spectacular photographic memories that you’ll cherish for years. He discusses exposure and other key camera settings, composition, lens choice, tripod use, and shooting techniques.

The good news is you won’t need to lug around a large assortment of glass, like you do when shooting landscapes in the field. This task is more akin to traditional street photography, where you can get by with a wide-angle lens and perhaps a telephoto (or two zooms in those categories).

You’ll likely get more use out of the wide-angle lens, but a mid-range telephoto is extremely helpful for impromptu portraits with sparkling Christmas decorations in the background. There are several other important tips in this lesson, and they’re all easy to master. So how about throwing the kids in the car and taking an evening holiday drive this weekend?

You will find a variety of instructional videos on the Park Cameras YouTube channel, so be sure to take a look.

We also recommend watching a related tutorial we posted recently, explaining how to avoid critical shutter-speed mistakes when shooting outdoors.