My Work, Photography

Nighttime Photo Walk – Festive Fun With Long Exposures

How do you capture that feeling of Christmas? If you have ever walked through your home town and wondered at the lights, but then been disappointed at your capturing of them on the camera, then the recent Photo Walk that I went on with Gainsborough Artworks would have been the perfect workshop for you.

Capturing a Moment…

Of course, as our group leader Dawn Jutton will attest, it is always difficult to capture your exact feelings through a photograph (read more about her thoughts on photography from this recent interview). Your reaction at any one time to what we may consciously perceive as purely visual, is intimately intertwined with myriad other factors that are impossible to relay at a later time and place through an image alone.

Yet, that does not mean that you cannot use photography to evoke a sense of the time and place. This was the aim with this Photo Walk, to look at our home town with a new perspective, and look at ways to achieve results in low-light.

Into Town

After a briefing at the studio, we headed out towards the town centre. It was a bitterly cold night, as if the temperature had dropped especially to aid with the festive ambience of the experience. We stopped a few minutes in to take some images of the large tree that stands in the middle of one of the large islands before you hit the main high street. xmas-tree













There was so much interesting light in this one area alone. The Christmas tree itself, with its oversized orbs of lights were not immediately interesting to me, but the lamp in the foreground of the above image and the way in which the stark white light mingled with the delicate leaves that surrounded it, was particularly beautiful.

It is always interesting to observe how others in your group react, as you will see how wonderfully diverse everyone’s interests are. One location can inspire so many different images and ideas. From the ambient street lights inter playing with the lines of the building, to the use of long exposures for the passing cars, I could have spent most of the night in this one spot and worked on several series of images and been quite happy.

Experimental Exposure

Almost inevitably we were all drawn into the warm, glowing beacon of the Christmas tree at the centre. It was here, partly inspired by my recent experimentation with long exposure shots at our last Photography Group meeting, and partly from the technique used by Dawn in her recent prize winning photograph at Lichfield Cathedral, we all started to slow the shutter speed down and marvel at the effects.

Christmas lights are a great way to experimental with long exposures. The added element here, however, is something that is usually seen as a cardinal sin of photography: movement. It’s simple, just set your camera up with a long exposure, about a second should be enough, and then when you hit the shutter bust some moves!

Below is a gallery of some of my favourite images from this little foray into long exposure and movement around the Christmas tree…

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I am going on another night-time photo walk next week, so will post some of my more considered images there, but for now, this was a fun half-hour of experimentation that I thought I’d share.

Have you tried this type of long exposure shot? If not, I’d recommend you give it a go, the results are always fun and surprising.

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