Barry’s Tips & Tricks #3-More Xmas Lights

One of the magnificent trees at the 5-Star Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO provided this backdrop.

One of the magnificent trees at the 5-Star Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, CO provided this backdrop.

Let’s add people into our next Christmas Light photographs. Our goal is to keep the ambiance of the holiday lighting yet direct the focus (pun intended) to the main subject ~ people. As the “storyteller with a camera” I’m usually including people in my photography. Galleries at both the corporate and portrait websites will provide plenty of samples to check out.

We’ll use the basic skills of composition and framing of course, making sure we’ve lit our subject well AND incorporate the lights and other holiday stuff. The previous Tips post talked about capturing the beauty of just the lighting.

Now we’ll bring people front and center, using the Christmas lighting as interesting and often sentimental background. The scene needs subdued light overall so the festive lights show up. A tripod or other camera support will most likely be needed to prevent motion blur of the background. There are a couple of ways to then get enough light onto our subjects ~ being careful to balance this light with the holiday lights.

1. If inside, move or point a lamp at the subjects.

2. Use the camera flash to light ‘um up. Secret here is keep the subjects close to the camera. Works indoors as well as out. In the top image the hotel lobby area was quite dark, so I used a remote controlled flash to add a touch of light to the tree and background so it did not go completely dark. The flash on-camera lit the couple, who were within 5 feet of the camera. Notice the balance between foreground and background ~ just enough light on the tree to show detail yet not take away from the portrait.

A remote flash was used from the right to illuminate the couple. Camera and flash set on Auto exposure ~ achieving great lighting balance between foreground and background.

A remote flash was used from the right to illuminate the couple. Camera and flash set on Auto exposure ~ achieving great lighting balance between foreground and background.

The last two photographs are wedding portraits taken of the newlyweds before they went to the reception. The scene is downtown Littleton, CO, well-known for its brightly lit Main St. Weekend evenings find “rush-hour” traffic volume of sightseers.

What better way to remember a December 19th Wedding than with photographs like this.

What better way to remember a December 19th Wedding than with photographs like these.

In addition to the portrait, I also asked the couple to walk “naturally” along the sidewalk for the more animated photograph. The background lights were bright enough that I didn’t need a tripod and I had the Best Man walk alongside the couple pointing that remote flash at them. As he and I walked backwards I was able to quickly fire off several images ~ all perfectly lit.

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