Q: What is the best way to take a picture of a lit-up Christmas tree? I can never get it right! I have an older Canon EOS Rebel if that helps.
A: It depends. What are you going for? If you just want a semi-sharp snapshot of your tree, make sure your room is decently bright and set a high ISO. You should be able to handhold a shot of your tree. Now I’ll go over some common problems/looks for a Christmas tree. (You will need a basic understanding of your digital camera and exposure for these tips) First is that ugly yellowish cast to your photos. You know what I’m talking about. It’s very easy to get rid of. As long as you aren’t using a flash, you can go into your camera settings and change your White Balance from Auto to Tungsten (for normal lights. If you have rainbow lights you’re screwed.) That should straighten it out. If you have photoshop you can do it on the computer too.
If you use your flash, it will mess up the colors. The little lights are yellow and the flash is white. so when you try to blend the two either it will still be very yellow or the white will start to look blue. Plus, the flash will drown out the glow from the lights and it doesn’t look as good. You might have to use a tripod or set your camera on something because your shutter will probably be at a very slow speed without flash. Here are 2 images concerning flash:
Yes, I broke my window and I used painters tape to fix it. You all think photographers lead a glorious life? Ha. Anyway the image without flash is much better in my opinion Now onto the lights themselves You know some pictures of trees where each light is like a beautiful starburst? That is because they are using a narrow aperture. When you use a wide aperture, you get a very shallow, beautiful depth of field but the lights are just blobs. When you narrow it down, you get more in focus, and you get starbursts. Check out the next few images.
You can see you get these nice “stars” at mostly f/8 and above. at f/8 and above you will probably need a tripod. These look nice, but sometimes the best shots are up close macro shots of trees:
These will give you big beautiful blobs of light in the background. Looks great. Or, you could get the whole tree out of focus and get creative by putting your significant other/family/pets in front of it. Here’s a shot from a very recent shoot I did with a Xmas tree:
Have any other questions about Xmas trees? Leave them in the comments! Internet points to anyone who can find the Rugby ball in one of the above pictures.
Bonus content: Christmas Puppies!