christmas lights long exposure photo

How To Create a Holiday-inspired Photoshoot

Even though Christmas has already come and gone, holidays are not over yet! Along with decorations and the delicious smell of freshly baked cookies, this is a nice opportunity to play with your camera.

If you live in a snow-covered area, you could scout for a beautiful location and include a human form as well. This either means capturing a wide frame (or stitching photos using the beloved Brenizer method) with the person tiny in the picture, or creating portraits. The snow acts as a reflective surface from below so, paired with a gray sky, it will give you lovely soft light that will nicely shape your model’s features.

Christmas lights come in various colours and twinkling modes, but using any can give you pretty effects to toy around with.

photoshoot with christmas lights
The photo above was created in my bathroom one evening using the tiles as a backdrop. I adjusted my settings for a slightly longer exposure of 1/5 s to get a nice glow. The longer the exposure, the more you’ll achieve a glowy effect, but the model has to stay really still in order to appear sharp in the final image.

christmas lights long exposure photo
Shot during the day, with an F stop of 6.3, it allowed me to set up an exposure of 0.8 s which was just enough to capture some motion blur. I moved my head around a bit and with it the tiny red lights that were positioned on my head, and managed to get a shiny trail.

There’s probably no better time to experiment with bokeh than holiday time, when sparkling lights are mounted in all public spaces, from shop windows, to city squares and pubs.
Using a shallow DOF, it’s possible to create portraits with a gorgeous bokeh in the background. Evenings are also a good time to take a stroll around the city center with your camera and a tripod.
There’s also a super easy DIY trick: placing a piece of cardboard with a cut-out motif (anything from stars to cats!) in front of your lens, your bokeh lights can take up the form of that particular motif.


photographer self portrait with cameraAbout the author
Hi! I’m Isabella and I’m a photographer, blogger and applied arts graduate. I love spending my time creatively, or watching movies, drinking tea, playing with my cats and hanging out with friends.
Find me here or on Facebook and say hello!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s