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This holiday is the perfect opportunity to take pictures of your family, your friends, and your neighborhood. Don’t let short days or cold weather discourage you.

Today’s digital cameras handle low light well, so it’s a great time to record the holiday lights and candles that mark the winter season. 

The first rule for pictures of holiday lights is to turn off your camera’s flash, which can rob the scene of color. If you’re taking pictures of holiday decorations at a neighbor’s house or a colorful store display, your camera may select a slow shutter speed, so use a tripod or find a way to steady your camera on a solid object. Use ISO 400 or even ISO 800. Automatic white balance can also drain color from the scene. Read your instruction book and experiment with other color balance presets. Shoot, check your LCD panel, and make adjustments.

Whether your subject is holiday decorations and lights, or a portrait of a family member, the most common mistake is to shoot from too far away. Don’t zoom in on your subject, because that will affect shutter speed. Instead, move closer.

Gentle snow won’t hurt your camera, and if it’s cold outside just keep it in your pocket until you’re ready to take pictures. Remember that framed photographs make great holiday gifts, and there’s probably someone on your list who would love a new camera as a present. 

Prepared by New York Institute of Photography. For more tips visit www.nyip.com