Photographing your beautiful Christmas tree this season can be very simple with these easy to follow steps.
- 1. Turn your camera on Manual mode (click here for understanding of manual shooting)
- 2. Use a tripod or other stable surface
- 3. Dim all the lights besides those on your tree
- 4. A lens such as 35mm is great for small spaces
- 5. Turn on the live view on your camera
- 6. Turn the ISO down as far as possible
- 7. Turn the F-Stop as high as it can go such as F22
- 8. Turn your Shutter Speed as low as needed to balance your exposure and bring back in light.
Why do I have to use a tripod?
Having your shutter speed very low will create camera shake if you are holding it. It's just inevitable. Find a stable place to sit your camera or use a tripod to ensure a crisp image.
Why use a high F-Stop?
Using a very high F-Stop is what will create the starburst effect along with a low shutter. You can certainly photograph a Christmas tree with proper exposure without using a high f-stop but if you are looking for the storybook twinkle then the higher f-stop and lower shutter speed is the way to achieve it.
Yes, a higher f-stop will make an image darker but remember you are balancing this with a very low shutter speed.
The F-Stop Comparison
Photo on the left is a lower f-stop number (f1.8) and the photo on the right is a higher f-stop number (f22). As you can see the starburst is much more present in the right image.
Left photo settings: Shutter is 1/50 sec, F-stop is F1.8, ISO is 200
Right photo settings: Shutter is 2.5 sec, F-stop is F22, ISO is 200
In this zoomed in shot below you can see that the lights on the right side twinkle with a starburst effect. The photo on the left is fine and has great detail but lacks the sparkle.
How do I create bokeh using my Christmas Tree lights?Simple. Just use the camera settings we just talked about and then turn your camera off auto focus and manually adjust the focal point until the lights go out of focus. You can create very soft and large bokeh or small and more defined bokeh.
- 1. Use a tripod or other stable surface
- 2. Dim all the lights besides those on your tree
- 3. A lens such as 35mm is great for small spaces
- 4. Turn on the live view on your camera
- 5. Turn the ISO down as far as possible - you do not want noise
- 6. Turn your Shutter Speed as low as needed to balance your exposure and bring back in light
- 7. Turn off your auto focus since bokeh is created with out-of-focus lights
- 8. Slowly turn the focus ring on your lens until you get the desired bokeh size