Have you been trying to get a good photo of your kids in front of the Christmas tree lights but cannot figure out what settings to use on your camera? This is the tutorial you need! Let me show you a quick and easy way to photograph your Christmas tree lights at night for a magical Christmas photo! Let me start this off by saying that I am not a professional photographer. I don’t claim to be and never will be professional. But if you’re an average mamarazzi like me with a DSLR camera who likes to take pictures as a hobby, this is a good tip for you.
Here is my Christmas tree photo of my son in front of our tree at night.
Here is another similar shot I took that night.
No, my tree doesn’t have a million lights on it. I’m not Clark Griswolding it up over here.
I am not sure how many lights are on my tree, honestly, but I can promise you it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Want to know how I got my photo to look like that?
Here is what I did: I turned my camera on Manual mode, set my ISO at 3200 (set yours as high as it will go) then I propped my camera up on the back of the sofa since I don’t have a tripod. I focused the camera on the tree and then cranked my shutter speed down to 1/30th. For those of you scratching your head and going “shutterspeed??” here is the dial you turn to change your shutter speed if you have a Canon camera:
This post contains affiliate links.
After you change your ISO and focus on the tree crank that dial on down til you get in the 1/30th range.
Even though the camera was telling me the pics would be way overblown I snapped them anyway, and this is what turned out. Here’s some amazing news…those pics above are straight outta the camera!
Here are the details on the settings used on these photos in case you’re interested. (My Amazon affiliate links)
Canon dSLR camera
f/1.8 (I love this lens)
Update: I tried to take pics of G in front of the tree every year for a few years to measure his growth.
2010 & 2011
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Want to see more posts like this? Click here to see all my Photography Tutorials
Click here for a complete listing of what’s in my camera bag and my favorite photography equipment.
Take my e-course! How to snap the perfect Christmas card photo of your family:
I question the reason why you titled this specific posting, “Taking glowing pics of the tree”.
No matter what I really adored the post!Thanks for your
They are beautiful Beth! Thank you!
OMG nice pic… 🙂
Yay!! Thanks for this! Can’t wait to try it out in December! 🙂
Vikki @ Cuteek says
Great tips I can’t wait to try them out! I did take a few snaps of my Christmas trees last night and was wondering how to get the lights to dazzle better. Thanks!
Adrienne @ Whole New Mom says
Pinning, Beth – thanks!
Great tip! Thanks for passing along! Enjoyed the discussion and advice in the comments too.
Just tried this and itworked. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Hello Beth….it seems that your post is still on on fire this year and I’m happy to have found you through A Delightsome Life. I am your new follower on G+ and I can’t wait to dig out my little tri-pod and play around with my settings. If I have good luck I will mention you in my post, too!
Jill Flory says
I love using manual mode and it’s the only thing I shoot in! Except for occasionally needing to go to aperature priority in some settings. I am determined that this year I will buy a 50mm lens so I can get that aperature so low 🙂
Martin H. Gonzalez says
Yes. And also slowing shutter speed helps a lot if you only have the kit lens (usually f/3.5-4.5 maximum aperture) and are in a budget, or not interested in buying a fast lens. Remember the exposure triangle.
These are stunning! When you said meter off the tree, did you mean the lights? Did you meter to +1? Thanks for this!!
I could not get even close. I have LED Christmas lights, could that be why?
Beth at Unskinny Boppy says
Hey Liz, Could be any number of things– your camera, the ISO capabilities it has, your lens, the lighting.
Hina Kaleem (@Hina_Kaleem) says
Thanks for the tips! I will try them out over the weekend. I just started a blog please check it out 🙂
Ok I tried exactly what you suggested with my 9-months old and I have a hard time capturing a huge scene like the tree and your kid in it. I have a 4-foot tree. My lights are multicolored and not bright white. One I can’t capture him and the whole tree (only part of it) with my 50 mm f1/8 and two his face will look dim but everything around him will be ok and lite. Can you help plz???
Just did this and it worked! Thanks for posting it.
צילום ילדים says
Those are some beautiful photographs. a great Christmas tree. That DSLR looks also good. Captured great photographs.
Kathy Geiger says
Thank you so much ! I love this post and look forward to doing this soon as my tree is up!
Beth at Unskinny Boppy says
Great! Send pics! 🙂
Marybeth Gill says
where oh where did you get that amazing camera bag!!!!!!!! please don’t tell me you have had it for years……………
Beth at Unskinny Boppy says
Hey Marybeth! It’s made by Copper River Bags, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I’ve had it for years but they do still make it I believe. 🙂 Here’s more info: https://bethbryan.com/whats-in-my-camera-bag/
brendan reilly says
Hello Thats a great picture but you don`t say what wb. you set your camera too
kind regards Brendan
Unfortunately, this photograph is actually overexposed (the lights are too bright to where they are blown out) and I wouldn’t recommend anyone pump their ISO as high as their camera goes, because that’s not always beneficial either because you can have some really grainy pictures if your camera’s sensor isn’t great.
Plus, not everyone is going to be able to set their camera on 3200ISO, f/1.8, 1/30 and get this exact effect, because the lighting in everyone’s houses is different, which is how photography works and why it’s hard to just pick up a camera and use it manually. I would recommend folks set their f/stop (the 1.8 number) to the lowest setting (if you are using the lens that came with your camera, that will be 3.5-5.6) and then set your shutter speed at around 1/30 and make it higher or lower from there until the image is exposed correctly. Or, just set your camera to aperture priority (AV or A), set it on a tripod and set your f/stop to the lowest it will go.
GoPro Hero Plus Release says
An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been doing a little
homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch simply because I discovered it for him…
lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!
But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk
about this subject here on your web page.
The prior Ron Lauren cologne couldn’t service this nicely out there and a
lot of men and women started off pondering on ale Ralph Lauren regardless of whether was first during for the kids inside perfume
section. One of the primary characteristics of cycling shirts （ED Hardy
Womens Shirts ）are their lifelong cuts in the corroborate.
This ordinarily doesn’t verbalize a problem on t shirts（Abercrombie & Fitch Mathing Short
Sleeve Shirts ） unless that groundbreaking shovelful
interpret you jazz is rattling tiny.
Liz Schweizer says
Beautiful shots! I love my Canon 50mm f/1.8, too. So versatile!
You are so interesting! I do not suppose I’ve read through something like
this before. So wonderful to discover somebody with genuine thoughts on this issue.
Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a
bit of originality!
Thank you for every other informative web site.
Where else may I am getting that type of info written in such
an ideal approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am just now working on, and I have been at the glance out for such info.
Hi Beth! Just became an avid Pinterest follower as I recently retired and was looking for something to do, lol. I’ve always had an interest in photography but am just starting out. I found your post and LOVE that you gave a lot of good advice, but one thing I was wanting to know is what metering mode do you typically use for these shots (which, by the way, are GORGEOUS!!)?