Christmas Lights and Lighting Christmas

So, we're definitely gonna have a white Christmas here in Maryland.

We are buried in snow, with the high between now and Christmas only hitting the mid 30's. That stuff ain't goin' nowhere.

I took advantage of the first pristine evening to do a twilight photo of our house with the Christmas lights, right out of the tutorial that was referenced last week.

Twilight is the magic hour when it all comes together. And the snow is an added bonus, making large, formerly black areas in the photo very easy to compress tonally. You can underexpose it by a full three stops and it is still a rich medium grey.

Or in this case, medium blue. After the light goes down, the ambient shifts to a very cool color temperature. And by shooting between daylight and tungsten WB, you can play the warm against the cool very nicely.

Here, I used a daylight setting, shifted three units to blue -- which is about halfway to incandescent. That left the tungsten lights nice and warm. Our normal outside lights, BTW, are warm CFLs, which are warmer than tungsten with a little green added in.

Other than that, it's just a waiting game. In a rare moment of lucidity, I shot test shots of the neighbor's house through the window from my warm living room until the lighting mix was pretty close. Then I walked out to the street and made my picture within a couple minutes.

(I'm kinda liking this staying-indoors-during-a-major-snowstorm thing -- a pleasant change of pace from the last 20 years of chasing snow art.)

Lighting Christmas

For those of you not around in 2007, we did a walk-thru of how to easily light your whole living room with just a couple speedlights. It is designed for Christmas morning, but is a good technique to know for any time you have to light a large area with mobile subjects. For reference, you can find it here.

If you are expecting lighting gear under the tree, this might even be excuse enough to get to open it a day early -- just sayin'.

In the Hobby house, we are full-blown into Christmas mode right now, so please forgive any delays in moderating your comments, etc. And whichever holiday you may be celebrating this time of year, we hope it is happy, healthy and spent with friends and family.



New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Grab your passport: Strobist Destination Workshops