I’m not a humbug… let’s just get that out of the way. But I find holiday lights pretty boring after a short while.


While it was a lovely evening to walk outside… the lights seemed a pretty “standard” subject to shoot.

Like every year, I find myself walking or driving through an exhibit of holiday lights with the family.  The kids love it (and I love that they are happy). This time I even left all my pro camera gear at home and only had a lowly point and shoot in my pocket (it’s actually my nine-year old son’s camera).

Recently, I taught him about light-painting and long-exposure photography. He loves it.  While on our walk through the holiday exhibit, he asked if we could shoot some soon again.

Thinking creatively…  this is what we did.

  1. Popped into the menu of the camera and found a preset for shooting Fireworks.  We also tried a preset for nighttime photography which worked well.  Most cameras have at least one of these.
  2. Since the light source couldn’t move, we instead waved the camera around.  We looked a little weird, but it basically looked like we were playing with a model airplane and pretending to have a dog fight.
  3. After letting the exposure fire for a few seconds, we’d put our hand over the lens to block out any more light.  This tricked the camera into staying open even longer and prevented an over-exposed image.

I’m not sure how you feel about abstracts, but I was pretty happy with the results (and my nine-year old had a blast). These images are un-retouched or modified.  All action was in-camera.


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Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on C&T Publishing Company and commented:
    Looks like wild, crazy fun!!!

  2. What do you mean putting your hand over the lens to block light tricks the camera into staying open even longer? Don’t you control when the shutter opens and closes? Can you clarify? Thanks.

    • I am using a consumer point and shoot here. And was using an auto mode. In this case, the camera is trying to create longer exposures to get trailing fireworks. Using my hand controlled the amount of light entering the camera in this automated mode.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


Photography, Shooting