Take your best ever Christmas photos
While the packed supermarkets, heaving shopping malls and congested traffic networks can try the patience of even the biggest Christmas fan, there is no doubt that this is a really magical time of year for the family photographer. Here are five ways to get your best ever Christmas shots, images which you will hopefully enjoy all year round...
1) Embrace the crowds
Hopefully you have been very organised and done most of your Christmas shopping by now, but you can still head into town for some great street photography. Cameos of bored husbands can make for entertaining shots, or try slowing down the shutter speed to convey the mass of rushing humanity. Either use a tripod or support to keep the background sharp, or carefully support an image stabilised lens by bracing yourself against a tree or post.
2) Carol singers and choirs
If you have a fast, wide aperture lens and a camera that supports high ISOs, you can often get some lovely pictures of carol singers and choirs. Flash is likely to be obtrusive, and may not be allowed at all in many churches, hence the need for fast aperture lenses; as for ISO, you can usually go as high as 1600 on most modern cameras without excess noise spoiling the shot. Try to capture the singers in candlelight or lit by streetlights, and don't be afraid of close-ups.
3) Bokeh shots of baubles
Another neat Christmassy technique is to take a close up of an attractive Christmas tree bauble and then use a wide aperture to blur out the rest of the tree background and get nice 'bokeh' effects – Christmas tree lights can appear as attractive, colourful orbs. Depending on your lens, try f/2.8 or f/3.5 and work from there, ensuring as much of the main bauble in the image as as sharp as possible, while the background is nicely blurred.
4) The calm before the storm
Make sure you get lots of shots of the decorated tree with the presents around it on Christmas eve. If you are shooting indoors, try a fast lens and a higher ISO rather than using 'straight on' camera flash. If flash is unavoidable, try angling your flashgun and bouncing the light off a white or pale coloured wall or ceiling.
5) Festive food
Food photography is one of the fastest-growing genres in photography at the moment, so make sure you get lots of images of festive fare. As well as nice close-ups of food on the table, give it context by including wine glasses and seasonal trimmings; images of cooks at work or people simply enjoying the food can make winning shots too.