Photographing Christmas lights    

I have always liked Christmas. I won’t go as far as saying that it’s my favourite time for year. Gosh, anytime time of year that I get to point my camera at something is my favourite time.

Christmas is special. I like the music. (Don’t ride in my car or visit me at my home if you expect any other kind of music till January 2nd) I also like the festive spirit of those people that remember this is a time of caring, giving and friendship. And, of course, I really like Christmas lights.

My last article was about using my ultra-wide lens Saturday morning to photograph the Tree of Hope, but the night before found Jo and I wandering in the cold photographing the city lights.

Jo used a 28-300mm and I used my 24-70mm and we both carried tripods. I think the lowest ISO I used was 800. Jo said she kept hers set at 100 ISO most of the time.

There were the usual strings of lights along the city streets, but it was the cheerful holiday lit Okanagan Lake waterfront that we wanted to photograph.

Kelowna goes all out and even has a skating rink that is open till 11PM and this year there was a big fire at one end for people to gather around.

Everything was perfect for two prowling photographers hunting for interesting and creative photos. I was hoping for snow. I like how the white covering reflects light at night.

We were ready for the cold and the snow and we even went shopping when we first arrived in Kelowna for a pair of insulated boots that Jo got for an early Christmas present.

What a fun overnight trip we had. We checked in to our downtown hotel, went Xmas shopping, had dinner at my favourite Kelowna restaurant (That plays blues music as you eat) were out till 9:30ish photographing the lights and got up early the next morning to photograph the 250,000 bulb Christmas tree.

As Jo and I drove home after that exhilarating time we talked about how we each found our own personal views of the lights. Would that be Perspective?

Photographing in low light or after dark helps to slow us down. One employs a tripod and most of the shutterspeeds are slow.

I think those photos that visually work usually take some forethought.

I’ll end this with a quote by American photographer Elliott Erwitt that I have used many times before because it fits so well, “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”





How about Christmas cards?


I like all the festive celebration and excitement of Christmas, and truly enjoy all the colourful decorations, the lights and listening to Christmas music for a whole month.  Yes, I do like Christmas music.  I have also written about Xmas cards before.

All year long the photography social media sites on the Internet that I belong to have been filled with photos made by members, but images posted on the Internet quickly become faded memories and are easily forgotten when an hour later someone else posts theirs.

I like photographic prints. Prints have a life, whether framed and hung on a wall in our home, taped on the refrigerator, or thumbtacked in an open space in the workroom. To me a print of any size has more importance and life than a digital image on my computer or iPhone screen.

Christmas is a great time for photographers, and besides than just having fun taking pictures of anything and everything they now an opportunity to give friends and family their photographs.

I suppose that could mean a big framed photograph, but what I am writing about today is Christmas cards. Cards are easier and less expensive than framed prints, and any card of a photographer’s work is more personal as a gift than an email or little picture tagged to a text message.

I don’t want to believe that any photographer would ever be satisfied with mass produced generic Christmas cards. Personally, I want people enjoy my photography, even if it’s only as a 5×7 card.   A card to someone I care about is so much better than having my pictures left languishing as image files deep in some computer hard-drive that hasn’t been backed up.

Right now I am going through my many files from this year’s photographs selecting those I want for Christmas cards. I’ll print up different subjects and place all sorts of greetings on them. It is rare that I give the same picture to more than one person. And not all the cards say Merry Christmas. Although I like “Merry Christmas” what wording goes on a card doesn’t really matter to me. Happy Holidays, Seasons greetings, Have fun, A good New Year, and anything else I think fits a particular picture. It’s about the card, never the words.

I have written before that I always produce a new monthly calendar. My wife and I used to alternate our months.   Doing a calendar is a neat way to personally enjoy my photography, but cards are a lot more fun because they are for others to enjoy. I also make cards for all occasions, like birthday’s, Valentine’s, Mother’s day, etc., My family has come to expect me to share my photography. Sometimes it’s only a picture of something we’ve done, but if it’s a special occasion they always will get a card. Even when would I go to my granddaughter’s school Christmas concert, I always took their pictures, made a card and send it to them through the mail.

For those photographers that don’t have their own printer, it’s as easy as having a 4×5 print made at a local lab. Then get some construction paper, glue a picture on it, fold the paper, write something like Merry Christmas inside and give it away. And don’t make all the cards the same.

What would be the fun in that?

Twelve Gifts for a Photographer’s 12 days of Christmas     



We finished setting up our Christmas tree, and sat down to celebrate with a glass of eggnog, while listening Christmas music coming from the TV music station. As we rested Linda just asked me that question that I had been side tracking, “You haven’t told me yet what you want for Christmas. Do you want something for photography?”

I hadn’t thought about what I wanted. And regarding anything to do with photography, if I thought I could afford it, I would usually just get it for myself.

I had been enjoying the tree, and the Christmas music, but as far as a gift for me, especially, “something for photography” left me at a loss of what to say, so I replied, “I suppose I want everything and anything that will fit my camera.”

I watched the train go round the tree, and I listened to the music, but I am still thinking about what I should tell my wife.

In keeping with that subject, I decided to pose that question to some photographers I know. There are so many different genres of photography with different ideas on what would be the perfect photography gift for each. I edited them and selected twelve in keeping with the tradition of twelve days of Christmas.

I am sure readers have their own Christmas list, however, here are some items that I picked out for this year.

(1) I had more than one person say, “I would like to move up to a newer model.” And their discussion for preferring full or cropped frame is always fun. The first on this list is one of many that wanted a particular camera. I think a photographer would have to have been real good to deserve this.

(2) I wasn’t surprised with this one, “I asked Santa Claus for the new Tamron 150-600mm lens.”

(3) When I heard this from a very serious photographer I thought, “me too”, “There is a new program called Aurora I would really like to try out over the Xmas Holidays.”

(4) More than one photographer upon retiring has gone this way so I wasn’t surprised with when some said, “After all these years of packing around a big DSLR, I would really like Santa to give me a small, lightweight Mirrorless camera.”

(6) Hey, this idea is just smart, “I’ve asked for gift cards, better chance of getting some of those than the Nikon D500 I really want.”

(7) “A new graphite tripod would be great to find under the Christmas tree.”

(8) I have my fingers crossed for this person, “A new camera backpack to hold the 70-200mm lens I hope I am getting.”

(9) A budding portraitist said, “I am hoping for several things this Christmas. A flash, a wireless off-camera trigger and a light stand with a softbox.”

(10) This is a great choice, “I really would be happy if I could get a macro ring flash for Christmas.”

(11) And I thought, “well of course” with this, “I think I’ll request that Santa Claus puts a couple of good quality, 32GB memory cards in my stocking.”

(12) This last one is practical for both portraiture and garden photographers “I’d be happy with a 5-in-1 collapsible reflector.

Personally, I could suggest many of the previous, but there are two photographers in our household and there needs to be some money left for my wife. So I’ll to put more thought into this before I reply.

There is still time to get your list to Santa. Good luck and Merry Christmas.