The festive season is a time for illuminations, both at home and in towns and cities.
Illuminations give off their own light, so you don’t need flash. Setting the camera to the ‘Auto’ shooting mode will often give good results. One advantage of a digital camera is that you can see the result almost immediately. If the image is not correctly exposed you can shoot again using exposure compensation (increase the exposure if the image is too dark; reduce the exposure if the image is too light). Make sure that the flash is switched off – in ‘Auto’ mode it may well trigger automatically.
The camera will probably set a slow shutter speed for illuminations, as the light levels are quite low. This can lead to blurred images if you handhold the camera. To overcome this, you need to support the camera. A tripod is the traditional camera support, but is often inconvenient to carry. However, there are often alternatives available such as chairs, tables, steps and walls. Use the self timer to prevent any vibrations affecting the image as you press the shutter button.
People and lights
There are times when you will want to combine people with illuminations – children opening presents under a tree decked with fairy lights, for example. If you shoot with flash, you will lose the effect of the lights; if you shoot without flash, the children will be in darkness.
This is when you need the ‘Night portrait’ camera shooting mode. With this setting, the flash will fire to light the children, but the shutter will then stay open to give good exposure for the illuminations. In effect, you are getting two exposures in one. As a slow shutter speed will be used, you will need to support the camera to avoid camera shake as described above.