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Taking photos at Christmas #photography


You will probably be taking photos this Christmas and it can be tricky when we have low light and we only have one chance to get some decent pictures.

Modern cameras are great and work well set on auto, but you can try the manual setting and try to get some better images. My first photo today was taken at Wednesbury town hall and as you can see it was low light, but there were spotlights on the stage. I set my camera on aperture priority and used a Speedlight, then checked my picture with live view. I quickly decided that I could get better shots without the flash. That meant slower shutter speeds and a narrow aperture, but not too narrow. This shot was at f/8 and the camera set the shutter speed at 1/40th of a second. The picture is quite good and although a little dark and shadowy, but it reflects the scene well.


This shoot was difficult because of the lighting and stage makeup, but I was able to zoom in quite close with the 18 – 105 mm lens.  Then it was off to change my lens and take shots from the balcony; which gave a different feel to the pictures.


For this shot, I was still on F/8 and using the 300 mm lens from the balcony. I changed the metering, the camera meters the light through the lens and I center weighted the metering to measure the light in the centre of the picture. The panto was Peter Pan, Tinkerbell is in the background of this shot.


I got better shots than this of Peter Pan, but I want you to see the blur that movement creates. I wasn’t just concerned about the actors moving. I had to keep the camera very still. I’m still at f/8 and a shutter speed of 1/40 of a second. I’m zoomed in to 240 mm so have to keep the camera very still. In this situation, you have to wait for pauses, then take the shot and hope for the best. A 1/40 of a second isn’t really fast enough.


Now you can see more clearly why I had my light metering center weighted. White can reflect a lot of light and here it stands out against the background.


Captain Hook waved his sword around a lot and that was a blur, so I waited for pauses in the movement.


You always get a slight blur in a picture unless you have your camera on a tripod with a fast shutter speed and a still subject. You have to accept a little blurring, but I think this shot is quite good.

Most of these shots were at f/8 but go for a wider aperture if you’re zooming in on just one person and let the background blur for a really sharp image. At Christmas time, your subjects will probably pose for pictures which is great, but you can take more interesting pictures of children playing with wider apertures and fast shutter speeds. My lighting conditions were really tricky and I was shooting with a long lens. In more normal circumstances you can use the flash to get more light or raise the ISO a little if the light isn’t too good. Photograph individuals with a wide aperture as well as groups and take action shots of children playing. Try to capture the surprised look when someone opens a gift. Use a wide aperture and zoom in close for the facial expression.

Have fun with you camera this Christmas.If you want to see the rest of my pantomime pictures you can find them on my Facebook page. You can follow this blog using the widget at the top of the sidebar, just enter your email address. You can also follow me on Twitter for updates.

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