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How to Take Photos of Christmas Lights

If your pictures of those twinkling lights need some work, follow these tips to refine your knowledge and skills and shoot the perfect shot.


  • Step 1: Pick the right time of day Pick the right time of day, after sunset and before it gets totally dark. You will have a 10-minute window of perfect lighting conditions.
  • Step 2: Include the sky in your photos Include the sky in your photos for a nice backdrop.
  • TIP: You may need to crouch down or get on your knees and aim up. This approach may lead to some interesting shots.
  • Step 3: Set your white balance to tungsten Set your white balance to tungsten. It will show more true white color, so your photos won't look yellowed.
  • Step 4: Set your shutter speed Set your shutter speed anywhere from one quarter to one second. You will need a faster shutter speed on windy nights, because the wind will cause the lights to move.
  • TIP: Use a tripod, enable mirror lock-up, and use a shutter release or the camera's timer to prevent camera shake.
  • Step 5: Adjust the aperture and ISO Adjust the aperture and ISO accordingly to correctly compose the photo.
  • Step 6: Practice Practice shooting until the light is just right. Your eyes will not be able to tell the difference, but the results will show on your camera's screen. Soon you will see a perfect mix of the ambient light and the Christmas lights. When this happens -- shoot away.
  • FACT: Frankenmuth, Michigan is home to the the proclaimed largest Christmas store in the world, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland. Over 100,000 individual Christmas lights shine in the store every day.

You Will Need

  • Camera
  • Christmas lights
  • Tripod (optional)

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