You shouldn't be without your camera during the Christmas season as there's so much going on for you to capture. So, with your camera in hand, let's look at how you can create a great Christmas photo.
If snow falls during the Christmas holidays, head out with your camera
and capture it! Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk
Select A Mode
The first thing to do is capture the picture and most digital cameras make the job easy. If you're new to photography, simply select an Auto mode and the camera takes all the exposure technicalities out of your hands, leaving you to concentrate on the shot.
For indoor shots, compact cameras have the appropriately titled Portrait Mode. Do check your shots if the flash fired, though as it can be a little harsh so it might be worth trying to diffuse it slightly.
When photographing children you'll find they tend to smile unnaturally or pull a face when asked to pose, but there are ways around this to ensure you capture a more natural expression. Try and joke with them, making them laugh and smile in the process. Another approach is to shoot candidly so they don't get bored waiting for you to pose them.
Many cameras have a red-eye reduction mode that fires a pre-flash to reduce the devil-inducing effect. Make sure this is switched on when you're shooting your portraits to reduce the chances of red eye spoiling the shot.
You can also try turning the flash off (this mode appears as a small lightning symbol with line through it) and using natural light from a window or patio doors. Window light will cast a shadow on the unlit side of the portrait which can be reduced effectively with a reflector. If you don't have one make your own by using tin foil, spray mounted onto a large sheet of card. Position this reflector so it points at the subject from the shadow side. As you move the card you'll see light reflect onto the person and the shadows will disappear.
Making The Person Your Main Point Of Focus
With DSLRs you can go into manual or aperture priority and select a large aperture to reduce the sharpness of the background to make your subject stand out. With compact cameras, just switch to portrait mode for shots of people and macro mode for close-ups as this lets the camera know you want to use a large aperture to throw the background out of focus.
Try using the camera's zoom at the telephoto setting to magnify the subject and home in tightly on their face. You'll fill the frame with their face ensuring they are the main focus of your photograph.
Understanding White Balance
If you take pictures using room lighting you may need to switch the camera to a different white balance setting. This is usually set automatically, but you can manually correct it by selecting the light bulb option when the pictures are coming out too yellow. You can also override auto to force a colour cast, if you so wish.
The first sign of snow and children will be out sledging, building snowmen and throwing snowballs. Take this opportunity to get some great candid pictures. But watch out for the pitfalls, snow is very bright and will fool the camera into thinking the scene is a lot brighter than it actually is. To stop this, switch to a program scene mode called Snow which compensates automatically ensuring the snow appears lovely and white.
Keep an eye out for colour cast too as snow can sometimes end up looking a little blue. Changing to a different white balance setting should fix the problem quickly though.
Happy Christmas Everyone!
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