|'Tis the season to be jolly! The season of lights - from
Christmas trees to Hanukkah candles to decorative house lighting. Lights...lights...lights
to cheer up the long dark nights of winter. According to the New York Institute
of Photography (NYI), the world's largest photography school, your pictures
can capture the magic of this lighting if you apply just one simple professional
For example, how can your pictures capture the colorful glow of the lights on a Christmas tree? The "trick", according to NYI, is to turn off your camera's flash! That's the key: Turn off that handy built-in flash. Because otherwise the bright light will overwhelm the subtle tree lights in your picture. Similarly, NYI recommends that you turn off your flash whenever you want to capture any subtle light source - from Christmas trees to Menorah candles to decorative house lighting to those wonderful tree outlines produced by tiny white bulbs.
Of course, certain things follow from this: When you turn off your flash, you won't have enough light for split-second exposure. Your automatic camera will compensate by opening the shutter for a longer time - maybe a second or longer. Let your camera's built-in meter decide automatically.
But a very long exposure will become blurry if either the camera moves or the tree lights move, or both. To minimize this risk, NYI recommends two further steps: First, use fast film - for example, ISO 800. This will cut down the duration of the exposure. Second, steady your camera. Handholding just won't do. Use a tripod if possible. If not, place the camera on a solid surface, such as a tabletop, or brace it against a wall.
For complete details and an array of great holiday photos,
see the article on Holiday Lights in this month's website of the New York
Institute of Photography at