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How to shoot Christmas Lights decorations in Central London
Christmas lights decorations in Central London is a great event and a good opportunity for a photo walk to capture the festive spirit. I am happy to share with you a few of the technical details which made these images possible.
What equipment you need
You can get away with any camera even a smartphone. For the best results, I recommend using a full-frame camera and a sturdy tripod. Use a wide lens, manual mode, ISO 100 (best quality), f/22 (everything in focus – deep focus).
Next, you will have to fiddle with the shutter speed – the duration you want the shutter to stay open. The more time the shutter stays open, the more light will impress the sensor and the brighter your image will be. Start with 4 seconds and evaluate your results. Blown highlights in the street lights are normal. Pay attention to the general lighting of the scene, the light that reflects of the building and the details you capture in those areas.
Long exposure to capture the Light Trails
For the image below I needed a 15-sec exposure. I had to wait for a bus to enter the frame and release the shutter to capture the horizontal trails of light. A couple was waiting for the traffic light to turn green. They moved slightly. This is why they came out blurry in the picture. This was exactly the effect I was after.
Use Perspective Crop Tool in Photoshop
The next image was not created with a tilt-zoom lens. I had to make sure I position myself directly perpendicular to the John Lewis sign and go as wide as possible. From that spot, all the vertical lines were diverging not parallels. In post-production, I used the perspective crop tool in Photoshop to correct this. The problem with this technique is that you will lose quality (megapixels) by stretching/expanding the image.
Attention to details
Did you notice the globes hanging all over Oxford Street and wished you could take a closer look? Now you have a chance.
I was in front of Selfridges. I wanted to try something a little bit different – zoom blur. In 2.5 seconds exposure time, I zoomed out slowly and got this. The rest of the settings stayed the same.
Take calculated risks
New Bond Street had the Christmas decorations on display. This is where Victoria’s Secret store is located. I had to try something a little bit dangerous.
The image below was taken by setting up the tripod/camera in the middle of the pedestrian crossing and set for a 10 seconds exposure. The traffic light was red. I have to admit – it was a bit nerve-racking. It could have turned green at any moment.
- Count how many seconds you have available.
- Decide your camera settings allowing time to leave the area safely.
Have fun with Multiple Exposures
Sometimes, allow yourself to have some fun. I couldn’t help myself not to try one of the new features on Canon 5D Mark III, multiple exposures. The results can be a bit unsettling. What do you think? Leave your comments below.