Field Trip: Holiday Lights - Dec 10, 2011

Scott Shackelford
December 10, 2011 – Led by Douglas Wade

Clark Court – 4pm,
Downtown Lancaster – 6:30pm

This field trip is a great opportunity to take images for the Holiday Dinner & Holiday/Winter Photo Competition (does not count for year end awards).


First Stop

Clark Court in Lancaster is one of the best places in the AV to photograph Christmas lights. The entire cul-de-sac provides quite the show! 

Clark Court is located one block west of 27th St W, and just South of Ave J-8. Please sign up on the website, so that you can be notified of any updates, and maybe even more handy hints!    

Meet at 4:00pm at the north end of the cul-de-sac and we’ll share tips on how to photograph holiday lights, and even try some artistic effects. 

A map of other “must see” holiday stops in the area will be provided.

Anita Kratofil

  • Camera
  • Tripod


  • HDR
  • Different Color Balances (tungsten)
  • Zoom/Panning
  • Long Exposures
  • Use of Timer on Camera
  • Mix of flash and long exposure


Douglas Wade
The best time to shoot is before it gets totally dark. More specifically, get there before what looks like mix light to your eyes. We may have to ask the houses to turn the lights on early (including inside house lights)- most people don't flip them on until the good light is already gone. Compose in your mind your set of image sets, this house, that house, this detail prior to sunset. The good light has a very short time frame, so you will need to shoot and move to the next location, without hesitation.

Sue Craft
Compose your photo in such a way as to include as much sky as possible in the background. Shooting towards sunset side. Shooting from a low position can help.

Once you get your picture framed, set your camera's white balance for "tungsten," if shooting JPGs. All of those little lights are tungsten balanced. As a bonus, the tungsten setting will turn your afterglow sky royal blue once your light balances out. The sky will look great - even if it is a cloudy evening. And your lights will gleam crystal white or whatever color they are supposed to be.

A light (or reflective) foreground, a puddle (or the roof of a car) can give nice foreground interest. See what you can find.

Lee Garner
Use a tripod or a beanbag to steady your camera. You'll be shooting in the range of a quarter second to a full second at twilight. If shooting with a phone use both hands to brace the phone against something solid.

Shoot a test shot every minute or so. At first, you'll be exposing for the sky and the lights will appear unimpressive. Check the back of your camera after each shot to watch the Christmas lights appear to "come up" as the ambient light level goes down.

Somewhere in between sunset and full dark, the Christmas lights and the ambient light will start to mix beautifully. You'll have about a 10-minute window which will give you a nice series of subtly different lighting variations. Remembering to keep your camera as still as possible, shooting lots of frames or subjects through the mix light.

After darkness, try some effects, like longer exposure, bracketed exposures (use for HDR), zooming and panning with long exposure.


Sue Liberto
Second Stop

We’ll make our way towards Lancaster Blvd, to photograph the holiday decorations and happenings. The city will have a Magical Christmas at that time, so we ( will meet up at across the street from LPAC (at what was King Photo) at approximately 6:30pm. We will walk the blvd, LPAC will be presenting the Nutcracker, so there will be people milling around. You never know, Santa may be there.


  • Wide angles shots
  • Interesting People

You'll need to be an LPA member and log in so you can sign up.

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