It is December, and I hope you will be taking pictures over the holidays. Pictures, no doubt, like this one I took of a friend a Christmas or two ago:

It occurs to me that I am not the only one doing some photography. Hence, a few tips for you for the parties of the next few days.

  1. Make sure your camera and flash batteries are fully charged, and that you have spares.
  2. Ensure that you have a formatted memory card in the camera.
  3. For “party shots”, you may want a lens in the, roughly, 35mm focal length range, or 24mm on a crop camera.
  4. Put the flash on the camera and aim it upward behind you, if you can find a white or white-ish wall or ceiling.
  5. Use the “Willems 400-40-4 rule” as your starting point setting. That gives you a warmer, slightly dark background, as in the photo above.
  6. Adjust the ambient/background part of your photo as needed:
    • If the background is too dark, go to 800 ISO and 1/40 second or 1600 ISO and 1/40 second.
    • If the background is too bright, go to 400 ISO and 1/80 second or 400 ISO and 1/160 second.
  7. Adjust the flash part of your photo as needed:
    • If the flash part is too bright, use “Flash Exposure Compensation” to decrease the flash power.
    • If the flash part is too dark (eg because ceilings are dark or high), go to 800 ISO and 1/80 second, or even 1600 ISO and 1/160 second. You may also need to use use “Flash Exposure Compensation”.

Do these simple things and you will get good pictures, better than ever. And I am telling you this now so you have two days to practice. Enjoy. And: Happy Holidays.

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