How to Photograph Christmas Lights With a Canon


Photograph Christmas lights with a Canon camera to create lasting memories with pictures. These images can also document different displays to provide ideas for your own displays the following year. Taking a picture of Christmas lights at night with a Canon camera with autofocus and auto exposure may result in an underexposed image. However, most Canon cameras have a manual override to their automatic functions. Manually adjusting the exposure and shutter speed will result in excellent nighttime Christmas lights photos.

  • Control the shutter speed of the Canon camera manually. Set the dial on the top of the camera to M. Then turn off the automatic exposure setting on the camera. Most Canon cameras now have this option. Some of the older Powershot cameras do not allow for manual shutter control. Set the shutter speed at one second or more. This will allow maximum light exposure for your picture.

  • Set the f-number or aperture at the lowest number possible. The lower the number the wider the iris of the lens opens up. The depth of field also widens with the smaller number. The lens opening needs to be wide enough to let as much light in as possible.

  • Steady the camera with a tripod. When the shutter stays open longer than a fraction of a second the image is subject to blur with any camera movement. Holding a camera steady by hand is difficult. Setting a camera on a tripod will eliminate the movement when held by hand. Use the timer function so that the camera does not move when you press the picture button. Turn off the stabilization features on the camera. Oddly, these can sometimes cause image shaking when the camera is on a tripod.

  • Turn off the autofocus function if the Canon camera struggles to focus. Sometimes the autofocus fails to work in the dark. Manually focusing the camera will eliminate this problem.

  • Check the image after taking the picture. If overexposed, shorten the shutter speed and try again. If the picture is too dark, try again with a longer shutter speed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the Canon camera manual to learn how to properly set the shutter speed and aperture manually.

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