Christmas lights

Twinkle Light Parade 2018 Albuquerque New Mexico

Twinkle Light Parade 2018 Albuquerque New Mexico

Darth Vader and Rudolph in the same parade!

My second time photographing the annual Twinkle Light Parade in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Various types of vehicles adorned in a variety of twinkling Christmas lights slowly drive down Route 66 (aka Central Ave) to the delight of thousands of on-lookers. The usual favorites like Rudolph and The Grinch are always present, along with some twists like Mr. Potato Head and Darth Vader!

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Christmas Card Portraits Treasure Island Florida Three Sisters

Holiday photo card portrait with three sisters wrapped in Christmas lights - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/5.6 ISO 100 2.5 sec tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 in 43" brolly frame rightLong time DSLR photography student Stacy invited me to her home to photograph her daughters for their family Christmas card.  She said I could bring Kiki along as well (more about this below).  This was an unusual shoot as Stacy worked with me to learn how to make portraits and I used much of her own photography gear (note the use of a Nikon D4 for all these shots!).  I had shown her my wedding couple wrapped in Christmas lights shot before, which we did with the three sisters for the above image.  

Christmas Photo Card portrait three sisters in front of their Christmas Tree - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70m @ f/4 ISO 100 1/200th - Strobist: SB-900 to frame right in 43" brollyWhen editing this black & white image I wanted mainly the lights of the tree to be visible in the background framing the girls.

Smiling in front of Christmas tree bokeh for holiday portrait in Treasure Island Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 70-200mm with 2x teleconverter @ f/5.6 ISO 6400 1/60th - natural lightUsing the new 2x teleconverter Stacy recently got, I took advantage of an effective 400mm focal length to create extreme bokeh in the background of the above shot of the same Christmas tree lights used in the B&W shot.  

Holiday Photo Card Portrait before the fireplace in Florida - Nikon D4 Nikkor 24-70mm @ f/6.3 ISO 100 1/4th tripod mounted - Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-900 to frame rightA more formal shot before the lit fireplace, which made things pretty hot for the girls, but throughout our shoot they were great and knew how to get into proper positions unprompted!  It was like working with professional models!

In all the shots Kiki was lying near the girls! It was my first time to bring her on a portrait shoot. Now when I try to photograph Kiki she is never happy about it and ends up looking like a sad puppy (see here).  However, she was all too willing to get into every photo with the girls and smile!  For the piano shot we let a sleeping dog lie and framed the portrait around her.  She just wanted to participate and be involved!

It was a fun shoot and a chance for me to try a few new things shooting inside someone's home, as I most often shoot outside on location.  I look forward to seeing the photos in print on Stacy's family Christmas card!

Photography Tip use Christmas lights for portrait lighting

In December (and even November) holiday and Christmas lights begin showing up hanging from trees, houses and windows.  Another use for Christmas lights is as portrait lighting.  As seen in the above example, I wrapped a string of Christmas lights around a couple from head to toe (but not over their faces) and also the mantle of the fireplace.  I used no speedlights and there was only the dimmest of ambient light coming into the living room.  In order to get enough exposure I used a shutter speed of 0.8 seconds with my camera tripod mounted.  I asked the couple to stand as perfectly still as possible as small movement would create blur with that long of an exposure.  

Portrait using Christmas lights for creative lighting - Nikon D300 tripod mounted with Tamron 17-50mm lens @ f/5.6 ISO 200 0.8 secSo for creative portrait lighting, try using Christmas lights.  Be sure and put a link to your photos in the comments below!

Tokyo Christmas Lights Stranger's Kiss - street photography

This is one of my personal favorite photographs - Location: Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan December 2008I can no longer remember what I saw and what I was thinking before I pushed the shutter to make this shot back in December of 2008 while I was still living in Tokyo, Japan and making daily trips to shoot in and around my tower apartment in Shinjuku.  I know I had been on to photograph some of the millions of Christmas lights in the city.  Japanese really, really like Christmas lights.  All of Tokyo is covered with them.  They refer to them as "illumination."  

This night it was just me and my Nikon watching the thousands of people walk by watching the thousands of lights.  There is a comfort I feel when I am out with my camera, almost a kind of security, that I would not feel if I were just one of the others out enjoying the lights.  

What do you see in the photo?  What of the two people?  Does it look like a couple about to kiss?  Actually, they were just strangers passing by and I happened to push the shutter just at the right instant to create the kissing illusion.  As I mentioned above, I can no longer remember if I intended to do this.  I am not even sure if I intended any people to be in the shot at all.  

Nevertheless, this illusioned shot of a couple's kiss is one of my personal favorite shots because it makes me think and try to remember.  

Christmas Lights Santa Plays Baseball in St. Petersburg Florida

Santa an an elf (?) playing baseball before Christmas!If you were wondering what Santa was up to two weeks before his lone out of home work day, it seems he was out playing baseball here in St. Petersburg.  I thought this was a pretty funny subject matter to have Christmas lights for so I was glad I had my DSLR with me.  Such photographs can be made handheld no problem as one only needs to expose for the lights of the subject.  Having the background remain all black is a plus for a lights shot.  

What are the funniest, most unusual Christmas or holiday lights in your town? 

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