How to photograph those special Christmas moments

If you’re looking to make magic memories with that new camera Santa brought you for Christmas, the key is in the eye of the photographer. Picayune Editor Daniel Clifton knows a few things about how to capture the sights of the season. Most important, he says, is to keep your camera ready!

“Anticipate the action,” Clifton says. “If you know the present your 12-year-old is opening is a shirt, he may give you a smile or some emotion, but if it’s a new iPad, his reaction may be over the top. Set up for those ‘over-the-top’ presents and photo opportunities.”

Clifton prefers not to use a flash for most of these kinds of shots. He sets his camera shutter speed at 1600 or above to best capture movement in low lighting.

Christmas lights are another popular subject this time of year. Again, best not to flash, he says.

“The flash often washes out the lights and takes away from the holiday atmosphere,” he explains. Set up a tripod and drop the shutter speed. For best results, move your camera off the “P” setting and use either manual or aperture priority setting. Some cameras have a setting for lights.

“I prefer manual because it gives me full control over the photograph,” Clifton says. “For close-ups of Christmas lights where I’m trying to capture a twinkling effect, I like to overexpose the shot a bit. That’s one reason I prefer manual.”

Tripods are the trick to the traditional group shot. Avoid busy backgrounds and varied lighting.

“Everyone should be in the same light,” Clifton says. “Best lighting is overcast or shadow.”

In this case, flash away, he recommends. It helps “pop” the colors.

And what do you do about those people in the group who try to get the smaller children to behave and look at the camera? That’s not their job, it’s yours!

Let the adults and older children know you are going to take the photo as soon as the younger children are looking your way, then YOU get the younger ones’ attention.

While group and posed shots might be easy and popular, the best are always going be those candid moments of interaction. Put the camera to multiple shots and let it go wild.

“Pixels are free, so experiment and have fun!” Clifton says.