My name is Shannon Heick and I live in the wintery oasis of North Dakota. My husband and I have three growing-way-too-fast boys and 2 GoldenDoodles named Maverick and Goose. Today, I am so excited to share four tips to help you capture the magical feeling of the holidays, along with some of my favorite Christmas images.
Back in 2008, when I started learning photography, I was afraid to shoot in low light. I remember thinking that I couldn’t shoot in low light because my shutter speed would have to be too low and my high ISO would produce too much grain. Many Christmas Eves I have put my camera away because I didn’t have enough “natural light”. This was a mistake. After years of practice, tutorials, classes and good old fashion trial and error, I have learned to embrace low light. I have come to realize how much the low light is such a crucial part of the dramatic story of the holidays. To me, it’s like the supporting actress or the antagonist. The light would not be as magical if the dark didn’t provide the contrast and the context. I wish I could tell you the perfect low light settings in your camera, but it will depend on what we are trying to accomplish. I just scrolled through all the images below and reviewed my settings and they are really all over the board. LOL. I think the main thing is that you give yourself permission to try different settings and study what is happening while you are shooting. It is ok to take time to stop and think and process. Photography is dynamic and slow all at once. Remember that failure is crucial.
One of the things that has helped me the most is to shoot with purpose. Sometimes I create set ups/scenes and ask my kids to “play along”. If I make it fun, they usually don’t need to be coaxed. When they hesitate, I just pull my most irresistible weapon from my momma arsenal . Frosting. LOL. Other times, my intention is to just observe and see what happens. In those cases, I just watch and wait and interact and keep my heart and camera ready to see a moment.
Freelensing has quickly become one of my favorite ways of capturing the holidays. Freelensing is a technique where you detach your lens from your camera body and tilt it straight in front of your camera ever so slightly and watch how the light leaks and bokeh explode. You will want to be careful with this technique because keeping your lens detached does carry the risk of getting moisture and dust in your sensor. Just be careful. (Normally, I just take the YOLO approach and try not to worry to much about that kind of stuff.) I currently use my good old nifty 50 to freelens. Since I shoot Nikon, I had to shove a little teeny tiny cut up straw piece into my lens to prop open my aperture ring. I believe Nikon is the only brand where the aperture ring closes down when the lens is detached. You may want to search up your lens brand and find a tutorial for freelensing on youtube. Here is one of the tutorials I found.
Overlays for bokeh, snow, sparklers and light flares can be another fun and easy way to “dress up” an image. There are so many free overlays available on the internet for free. One of my favorites is the Summerana Sparkler Overlay. You can get it for FREE right HERE.
A few other Overlay packs I have been eyeing up lately are the:
In This Light- Holiday Magic Bundle
Photographer Notebook – Start Taking Magical Winter Images (guide)
Well friends, I hope these tips and images will warm up your heart a bit more this magical season.
Merry Christmas, everyone.