Where ever the holidays find you, there are lots of opportunities to commit memories to photography. Carry your camera. Holiday decorations are calling you!


Travel light. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a normal lens is usually all you need. Now I admit to carrying a tripod whenever I can, though not always.

Boost the ISO

Holiday lights glowing in the evening cry out for a steady camera by either using a tripod or a faster shutter speed. Modern cameras do really well at higher ISO numbers. Don’t be afraid of boosting the heck out of the ISO to capture these colorful happy times. Lightroom’s Develop module has a great noise reduction set of tools in the Details tab. The only one you really need to use is Luminance the first slider under the Noise Reduction section.

ISO 800 on a Sony NEX-7 produces noise. Lightroom’s Luminance slider takes care of it.

Shake the camera. Seriously…

Regular readers know that I am that guy. You know. The one who always uses a tripod, brings lights so s/he can always shoot as ISO: 100, regularly photographs connected to a computer. That’s me. Guilty. Most of the time. Then there’s personal work that happens with fewer constraints because it’s play. No income is riding on it.

My very guilty pleasure is moving the camera during long exposures. I love the serendipity of it. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. This is the absolute opposite from my commercial work. The next two photos were made with a Canon 1Dx and a Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 lens both at ISO: 100.

Nudge the tripod a little bit during a 15 second exposure gives a feeling of falling snow.
A slow pan up over a six second exposure creates streaks that make really fun patterns.

Or hold it very steady…

…and use as faster shutter speed by jumping to a higher ISO then tuck your elbows into your ribs, take a deep breath, let it out slowly while ever so gently pressing the shutter release so it surprises you when the camera fires. You’ll make a very sharp image.

1/30 second, f/8.0 ISO: 1600

Free sets

People go to a lot of passionate work to set up holiday decorations. These are fabulous sets. Make that fabulous free sets. The decorations are up. Grab your camera and one lens. Take an evening and play. Happy holiday shooting!