Christmas lights were the subject of last night’s foray into picture taking around town. A friend’s home had good oblique angles and provided dark architectural landscape that her Christmas lights outlined and accentuated. And, in most instances Christmas lights highlighted architectural shape against night’s darkness, making homes look like Gingerbread houses. Beyond this, Christmas lights add atmosphere and mood with their reds, greens, blues, purple and clear white colours, all of which have a gradient of reflection upon surrounding snow. So, I began the endeavour of capturing Christmas and the Christmas spirit around town.
Tonight, I’ve just read an article on the Strobist blog, ‘Photographing Christmas Lights,’ http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/12/how-to-photograph-christmas-lights.html and it contains six recommendations for capturing the outdoor beauty of Christmas. One key concept is that Christmas lights reveal themselves best in fading ambient light following sunset and that the trick is to balance the Christmas lights against the ambient light. Here, framing shots would make intentional use of the sky as background to composition; I would need to shoot across the subject (lights) into the ambient light. And, where I began shooting Christmas lights at 8:30 p.m. I would need to move the photography three hours ahead to 4:30-5:30 p.m. to find the sweet spot of the ambient light fading into background glow. In terms of camera settings, where I had my white balance set to custom at K 10000, the Strobist article recommends using the tungsten setting to bring out a royal blue in the sky. I did use my tripod and took shots from low level, eye level and from the deck of my pick-up truck box as a means to find best angle of view. Strobist recommends a low level shot so as to use much more of the sky as background in the composition. In terms of foreground in most shots I did utilize the light, reflective surface of the snow to create foreground interest; here, there may be better ways to explore foreground use. In the shots I took last night snow tends to add the feel of a large blanket insulating the earth below it.
So, I’ll be out and about in the next few nights, right after work.