Outdoor Christmas Lights - Tips and Tricks for Taking Pictures

Hello All!

This is the VERY FIRST year in my entire marriage that we have put up Christmas lights!

Granted, there have been some pretty good reasons why we haven't done it before BUT I am just excited we put the extra effort in and got them up this year.  

To be honest, it was more expensive than I thought it would be (bummer!) I suppose if we were on top of it, we would have figured out what we needed (how many strands) last year and bought them on a big clearance for this year. :-)  I guess I can't be on top of everything!

We went with the icicle lights due to the fact that they were a decent price at Costco and they came in 10 foot increments  We needed the smaller strand size to make the endings correct.  (Too much extra line looks odd and definitely not having enough to fill out your roof line looks odd!)

The little candle lights in the window was something I picked up last year at the 75% off.  They are LED lights that turn on for 5 hours and turn off for 19.  I LOVE them!  I put them in all the main level windows.

The best part of all - the kids have been SOOOO excited that we finally have a "Christmas House" ;-)  

I thought I would end this fun Christmas Light post with a few tips and tricks I learned about shooting Chrismtas lights. (No flash needed)

EASY TIPS and TRICKS for taking great outdoor Christmas light shots.

  • FIRST off - do not wait for it to be completely dark when you start to shoot.  
There is a "sweet spot" time when you can get the lights to sparkle but you can still see the sky.  Start shooting right as it STARTS getting dark.

Here was my first shot, middle and my last shot.....(about 5 minutes apart each)

getting dark - the picture is pretty but the lights don't "sparkle" (3.5 FS, ISO 3200, 1/40 SS)

The picture above was around the perfect time for my taste.

Dark enough for lights to sparkle but I still got the blue sky and tree! (3.5 FS, 3200 ISO, 1/10 SS)

  • Compose your picture to get as much sky as possible.  If you have a pretty afterglow from the evening sun try to capture that in the background too.  (the sun was sadly setting the other direction in this photo....you can see it in the windows though!)

  • Also in your composition try to add a tree or something to anchor (and frame) the picture.  We don't have any trees planted yet so this was a hard one for me!

  • You will want a steady hand because even taking a photo at your highest ISO it will be a 15 - 30 second opening at twilight.  Use both hands and try to brace against something solid.  Of course if you have a tripod handy use that! (I just steadied my hand and put it on a two second timer so that when I pushed the button, it waited 2 seconds before it actually took the shot - MUCH steadier for me!)

  • Lastly, play around with the white balance.  If they are older lights (not LED) set your white balance on Tungsten, it will give it a nice glow.

There you have it!  

I am FAR from a professional photographer but it's always nice to hear easy tips that ALL of us can achieve. :-) 


  1. Very pretty and thanks for the tips. I can use them to take photos of OTHER people's houses. Our roof line is so high on our current house that my husband won't attempt roof lights. And there is NO way I'm getting up there. We have a Snoopy count down the days to Christmas thing we put in our yard. If we don't get it out soon enough the neighbors start asking for it. So we put it up first this year!

  2. I LOVE your blog! I felt like I met my soulmate when you I read about your thrift store scores! I make my husband play the "guess how much game" which is really getting old so I could really relate to all of your posts!!!! Thanks for sharing all of your amazing creations!!!

    1. Laurie you are too kind :-) The next post up is a quite funny "guess how much" husband story.....so glad to have you following along!

  3. This is very random, but I found you on this forum from July about how your GFC wasn't working for several days after changing your url, and was wondering how you fixed it or if it fixed itself. For me it has been 2 days that it hasn't worked. Sorry to be so random! I know this has nothing to do with your current post! :)


    xo eden

    ps. These pictures are very beautiful! :)

  4. So pretty, Selina! I see your glowing candles too, I love them! Your entire house just glows for the holidays. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. So pretty, Selina! I see your glowing candles too, I love them! Your entire house just glows for the holidays. Thanks for stopping by!


Thank you for your comments! I read them ALL and appreciate them. If you are asking a question be sure and leave your email, it will help me be able to contact you if you need a response. :-)

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