Lighting Challenge: Using Christmas Lights


When I first started really getting serious about my photography, the one thing that really intimidated me was working with studio lights. Most of the time I tried getting away with just using natural or ambient light, which worked most of the time. However, there were photoshoots where I absolutely needed to use studio lighting. Before those shoots, I would suffer a lot of anxiety because I felt the pressure to get the lighting done right and in a short amount of time. I was afraid people would look down on me or judge me if it took me too many tries to get the lighting just right.


Taking classes on lighting was definitely helpful for me, but what has really helped me the most was practicing with my lighting kit over and over again and changing up the variables. It’s cool to check out what other photographers are doing, but, unless you have their exact kit, your results will be different. Instead, when I check out photographers on Instagram, I’ll adapt their techniques with what I have in my studio. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.


Confidence with lighting doesn’t happen over night. I have had shoots where my ideas work, and I feel on top of the world. Then, there have been other shoots when I couldn’t get the lighting to do what I had in mind. Now that I have done countless photoshoots, I at least know what to do to salvage a photoshoot when I’m struggling with the lighting. The trick is to know the basic lighting set up. When I fall into a rut, I just reset the lights and begin again.


This year I’ve decided to challenge myself and create different looks using various kinds of light sources. For this first challenge, I chose Christmas lights. I think one of my favorite things about the holidays are the colorful lights on people’s Christmas trees and home exteriors. To compensate for the limited lighting, I used the following setting:

ISO: 4,000

Aperture: f5 

Shutter speed: 1/80

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