How to Capture Christmas Tree Lights

So many of you have asked how to take self-portraits with your camera. Since today was the first snow day in DC I thought it was the perfect time to share. It’s a bit tricky but I have practiced a lot this past year and it does get easier. I thought I would share my system and equipment with you and hopefully you can get some fun results.

1. Set up your tripod

2. I find the best lighting. My style is to shoot wide open (aperture at 2.2) so this gives you the pretty bokeh with the lights. I set my camera to Live-Mode so I can see what the light and background looks like before you take the photo.

3. Stand directly in front of the camera lens so it will focus on you.

4. You can use the timer if someone is with you to focus on and then run into the photo but when I am by myself I use a remote. It’s on sale for $10 right now and worth every penny! I’ll share the link below. It is small and can easily fit into your hand or pocket, so it’s easy to hide. I have been known to focus the camera and then throw the remote out of the frame before the shudder releases. 🙂

5. Be patient. I try at least 10 times before I am happy with the angle and lighting. It’s worth it though!

Tip: When photographing Christmas lights the wider the aperture, the bigger the lights will appear. Also, the closer you are to the tree the larger the lights. (example below)

Here are my exact settings I used to capture the images below:

ISO: 800

Aperture: 3.5

Shutter Speed: 200

This day was really cloudy due to the snow so I had to raise my ISO. Typically I keep it around 400 and my shutter speed at 400 but since I had it on a tripod you can use a slower shutter speed and it will still be in focus.


Camera Equipment:

Camera Body: 5D MarkIII

Lens: 50mm 1.2 

Camera Remote: Foto Tech Remote

Tripod: Vanguard Alta

Enjoy everyone and if you have any success feel free to share your photos with me! Happy Snow day.


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